The definition of a microgrid is a decentralized group of electricity sources and loads that normally operates connected to the traditional wide area synchronous grid but can also disconnect to “island mode” and function autonomously as physical or economic conditions dictate. Based on aging electric infrastructure, growing electric demands and focus on carbon reduction the microgrid market is growing to meet these global requirements. Recip engines are an integral part of a microgrid now and into the future based on their ability to provide consistent, sustainable, reliable electricity and thermal energy. Recip engines can operate on many different fuels such as natural gas, diesels, biogas, propane, etc. They are also being designed and configured to operate on clean zero-carbon fuels such as hydrogen, renewable natural gas to meet carbon reduction goals. Manufacturers are also focusing on making sure current reciprocating engine microgrids can be retrofitted to operate on zero-carbon fuels as they become readably available and are cost-effective.
This abstract will focus on two operating microgrids that incorporate reciprocating engine technologies today. One operates an engine in a simple cycle mode and the other incorporates an engine operating in combined heat and power application (CHP). The first project contains a continuous duty generator set rated for is a 423 kW for a microgrid project located at the Chattanooga, TN airport. The customer is the local municipal utility, Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB). This project utilizes a recip gen set, PV solar panels, battery energy storage, and a microgrid controller. EPB worked with the University of Tennessee to develop the microgrid controller as part of a grant. The second project is a 5-MW microgrid for Tasteful Selections, a vertically integrated farmer-owned, farmer-driven bite-size potato growing, packing, and shipping operation. Combining 3.6 MW cogeneration firm power with 120-kW solar and 1.25-MW/625-kWh lithium-ion battery storage, the microgrid has approximately 5-MW total capacity with provisions to add additional renewables, including more solar and renewable natural gas. It is architected to create efficiency at every turn, from capturing and repurposing heat to optimizing engine efficiency and advanced load side management. The microgrid incorporates solar energy generation and battery storage to provide Tasteful Selections a pathway to net-zero carbon.
Brian Curtis | CEO, Concentric Power
Thomas Smith | Gas Segment Manager, Caterpillar
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