By Stuart McCafferty
As the technology matures and the risks decrease, Microgrids continue to be one of the most exciting and talked-about opportunities for companies, campuses, utilities, and government. Microgrids offer a variety of compelling business opportunities to help meet organizational mission requirements, participate in the electricity markets, increase energy surety/resiliency, and incorporate renewable energy resources. The conundrum is that there are many, many ways that a Microgrid could be designed, and a design that was optimized for one organization in one location is highly unlikely to be optimal somewhere else. So, with these types of non-trivial investments, very strong requirements and accurate modeling and simulation of the Microgrid is imperative to ensure that it has been properly designed and optimized. Too often, engineers and developers want to skip through the requirements and analysis and design steps in order to save money and move faster. Unfortunately, this can end in disastrous results with a system that does not meet the real requirements of the organization, is inefficient or insufficient, is not extensible or future-proofed, or is risky or unsafe to operate.
There are 6 primary requirement areas to consider when designing a Microgrid:
- Mission: What is the organization’s mission? How will a Microgrid help support the mission?
- Loads and Generation: What are the existing and future loads that will need to be addressed by the Microgrid? What are the existing suitable generation resources available?
- Infrastructure: How is the current grid configured? How will the Microgrid interact and take advantage of what is already there? How do the infrastructure elements need to be monitored and controlled to ensure stable operation and meet operational goals?
- Scenarios: What are likely events (typical, emergency, opportunistic) that a Microgrid can support?
- Policy: What policies, incentives, and constraints need to be considered?
- Costs: What are current and projected costs of the system?