Electrical power is essential. From the time when our alarm goes off in the morning to when we turn the lights off at night, we use electrical power. Residences, businesses, healthcare, community infrastructure and educational institutions all rely on power.
In the face of natural calamities, grid outages, instabilities, cyber threats and other events, there is a need to be smarter and more cost-efficient on how power is generated, managed and distributed.
With increased capacity of solar, wind, energy storage, combined heat and power (CHP) and other distributed energy resources, there is an opportunity to optimize energy to support resiliency to critical areas. In addition, as technology and material costs for solar PV and energy storage have improved, it is now possible to generate reliable energy to improve grid resiliency at competitive market pricing levels.
Over the last decade, microgrids have become an increasingly compelling means to not just keep the power on, but also to manage distributed energy resources and energy costs.
What are microgrids? Microgrids are standalone power generating, distribution and storage systems that can be operated independently or connected to the primary utility grid. They provide a reliable and efficient solution to unexpected power loss, effectively balancing variations in energy demand, optimizing energy usage for more reliable power, as well as reducing operating costs and carbon emissions.
Moving to a more distributed energy model
The costs to generate and store energy are decreasing, which is changing the nature of the utility grid from a centralized generation model to a distributed system of sources and loads.
The electric system architecture is a system that allows consumers, especially consumers of large amounts of energy, to generate, store and manage energy usage. In effect, power generation is moving closer to the user due to the availability of microgrid system technology
that can be leveraged with multiple types of renewable or distributed generation as well as the lower cost of energy storage.
There is no better time than now to take control of energy supply, cut bills and move towards a more sustainable future.
A more sustainable future with smarter power management
With smarter energy storage and management solutions available today, homes and businesses can gain access to a safe, reliable and efficient power management that harnesses the full potential of renewable sources. Energy can be stored when it is available and when rates are at their lowest, and can be used when it is needed.
For instance, Eaton and Nissan have collaborated to bring to market the xStorage Home energy storage system to allow homes to connect to the power grid or renewable generators, such as solar panels, and charge up when the grid power is cheaper, or when energy is being generated from renewable sources. This enables users to control exactly how and when they use energy in their own homes.
Combining Nissan’s expertise in vehicle design and reliable battery technology with Eaton’s capabilities in power quality and electronics, the xStorage Home solution creates a reliable and efficient back-up power source, especially in the event of a power outage.
Likewise for commercial and industrial buildings, there is a need to store energy so that it can be used on demand to power businesses and mission-critical applications. Innovations are available today to help building owners and operators select the right power sources according to the load, grid constraint and the availability of renewable energy.
Take for instance, the xStorage Buildings system being installed at the Amsterdam ArenA will efficiently store and distribute energy when it is needed to ensure that lights never go out at the renowned 55,000-seater stadium, which has played host to numerous high-profile concerts and sporting events over the years.
By repurposing used batteries or using new batteries from electric vehicles, the xStorage Buildings system can draw energy from the grid, and provide businesses with more control, better value and a more sustainable choice for their energy consumption. Not only does the innovation create a vital back-up power to the ArenA, it also helps stabilize the local grid.
Modularity and scalability are key
As every application for a community, business or home is unique, customized solutions can help optimize, build and maintain a secure and cost-effective energy and storage system.
Modularity and scalability are thus essential to help achieve this and also ensure that the energy system created is agile and resilient enough to adapt to changing needs over time.
Andy Low is General Manager, Distributed Power Quality Division, Asia Pacific, at Eaton