Introduction of Electricity Microgrid

Industry insights · Dec 6, 2022

What Is An Electricity Microgrid

An electricity microgrid is an independent electrical network with defined boundaries that allows electricity to be generated on-site and used at any time. It is a small-scale power generation system with distributed energy resources that acts as a single controllable entity. A microgrid can be designed to connect and disconnect from the main grid automatically.

Berkeley Lab, the United States National Laboratory owned by the United States Department of Energy describes an electricity microgrid as an energy generation and storage system that can power a building, campus, or community when it is not connected to the electric grid. A microgrid can operate in either a grid-connected or isolated mode.

Grid-Connected Microgrid

A grid-connected microgrid is a microgrid that has a physical connection to the main electric grid through a switching mechanism at the point of common coupling (PCC). It can disconnect from the main grid and reconnect as technical or economic situations dictate.

In grid-connected scenarios, a microgrid that is effectively integrated with the utility service provider can provide grid services such as frequency, voltage regulation, real and reactive power, and demand response. In isolated scenarios, local voltage and frequency controls are required within the microgrid; and battery storage systems or synchronous generators like natural gas or fuel cell diesel provide the needed local voltage and frequency controls.

If the microgrid-generated power exceeds demand, the excess energy is supplied to the electric grid. In contrast, If the microgrid-generated power is below the required output, the microgrid acts as a load on the conventional system.

When serving a relatively small geographic area, grid-connected microgrids demonstrate economic viability for educational campuses, medical complexes, military bases, agricultural farms, commercial buildings, and industrial facilities.

Isolated Microgrids

Isolated microgrids are called stand-alone microgrids. They are physically isolated from the main electric grid and operate in an island mode every time due to the lack of available and affordable transmission or distribution infrastructure nearby.

In this type of microgrid, renewables, such as wind and solar, typically provide a more economical and environmentally sustainable (DER) solution supplemented with energy storage systems like batteries for backup. Isolated microgrids are used where power transmission and distribution from a primary electricity provider is affected by long distance and high cost. They are mostly designed for rural electrification in remote areas and smaller geographical regions.

Benefits of Microgrid

  • Boost grid resilience: One of the main advantages of electricity microgrids is grid resilience. During an outage, microgrids can temporarily disconnect from the main grid and continue supplying power from their energy generation sources or battery storage. While most electricity microgrids are not designed to function as stand-alone microgrids, the ability to switch from on-grid to off-grid is a game-changer during natural disasters, such as wildfires and winter storms.
  • Generate revenue and reduce cost: Electricity microgrids generate revenue by helping communities and businesses provide energy services to the main grid. An example is a Feed-in Tariff that many countries have implemented, which allows payment for excess electricity exported to the national grid. Microgrid also saves electricity costs for consumers by reducing the amount of power the main grid produces and delivers during times of high demand.
  • Helps to counter climate change: Electricity microgrids use renewable energy sources and waste heat, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy lost through transmission lines. It balances electricity generation from renewable power sources (such as solar) with distributed or synchronous generators, (such as natural gas-fueled combustion turbines and energy storage systems). This is to accelerate the transition to clean energy. With smaller carbon footprints and reduced environmental impacts, microgrids are subject to fewer regulations and less community opposition, expediting development.

Energy Storage in Electricity Microgrid

Energy storage in an electricity microgrid ensures multiple functions, such as power quality, frequency and voltage regulation, rectification, and filtering of renewable energy output.

It provides energy backup for the systems and is crucial for cost optimization. Chemical, electrical, pressure, gravitational, and heat storage technologies are used to produce energy storage systems. When multiple energy storages with various capacities are available in a microgrid, there needs to be coordination so that smaller capacity storages do not discharge faster than those with larger capacities and the smaller ones do not get fully charged before the larger ones.

Franklin Home Power

Individual households play a significant role in the transformation of global energy consumption.

In 2021, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,632 kilowatt-hours (kWh), an average of about 886 kWh per month. That is a huge number. So how can households ensure their energy consumption is sustainable?

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