The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas’s Energy Resilience

The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas’s Energy Resilience – Isolated or located in high fire risk areas, some utilities are turning to remote microgrids to ensure reliable power. These microgrids are stand-alone systems that are not connected to the grid, powered by solar energy and battery storage, and fuel-fired generation serves as a backup power source.

By using remote microgrids, a service provider can reduce the risk of fire. A remote mini-grid allows utilities to completely remove transmission and distribution lines or shut down during periods of high fire risk. Using independent or off-grid power as an alternative power source to the Public Safety Power Outage (PSPS), a widespread California program first implemented in 2019. . According to a government audit, 67 separate outages cut power to more than 3.6 million people between 2013 and 2021.

The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas’s Energy Resilience

The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas's Energy Resilience

California utilities have more than 26,000 miles (42,000 km) of high-voltage transmission lines, many of which pass through rugged, sparsely populated mountainous terrain. There are also 40,000 miles of bare or insulated power lines that cross fire danger zones across the state. Power lines are expensive to maintain in these environments. Power lines can quickly cause wildfires when wind blows trees onto wires or transformers explode during summer heat waves.

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Increasingly hotter and drier conditions resulting from California’s climate change are increasing the risk of wildfires. According to a November 2022 state report, California’s changing environment has led to an exponential increase in wildfires in recent years. As the risk of wildfires increases, utilities are considering repairs to power grid infrastructure in the most dangerous areas.

After transmission or distribution lines suffered several catastrophic fires, California updated its high-risk fire maps, while utilities took many steps to reduce fire risk. They initiated a power outage program and worked to improve their outage warning systems to provide customers with at least a full day’s notice whenever possible.

PG&E, a gas and electric utility in California, also implemented the Remote Grid program, a new strategy to reduce the risk of wildfires. Remote grids are part of a plan to eliminate transmission infrastructure in high-risk fire hazard districts (HFTD) and instead rely on small, independent grids to provide electricity to remote communities.

BoxPower, a California-based company that has started providing containerized microgrids for disaster relief, is working with PG&E to identify communities that are good candidates for the Remote Grid initiative and develop those projects.

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While uniquely designed to fit the needs of each location, PG&E’s remote microgrids typically include a solar photovoltaic (PV) array, batteries, and inverters. Often the system includes a backup fuel source, such as a propane tank. The utility pays the installation and maintenance costs and charges customers at their regular rates for supplying electricity to the grid.

A small off-grid community in Brisburg, California was the first implementation of PG&E’s remote grid concept. Brisburg consists of three homes and a Bureau of Land Management Visitor Center located in Mariposa County, California, near the Merced River and close to Yosemite National Park. After the 5,500-acre Braesburg Fire destroyed distribution feeders leading to the city, PG&E decided it would be more efficient to remove the power lines and build an independent hybrid power system. In addition to reducing the risk of fire, cutting power lines saves on maintenance and vegetation control costs.

Modeled using UL Solutions HOMER Pro, the Briceburg hybrid power system includes a 36-kilowatt solar PV array, a nearly 70-kW lithium iron phosphate battery, and a backup generator that uses propane fuel. The system can be operated by PG&E or BoxPower via satellite.

The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas's Energy Resilience

According to Anderson Barkow, BoxPower’s co-founder and chief financial officer, “The Brisburg Microgrid has been running successfully for almost two years.” “It was a great test that worked well in the weather.”

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The microgrid performed flawlessly during the historic winter storms of 2021 and the record heat wave of 2022, and especially during the floods caused by atmospheric river storms in late 2022 and 2023. When PG&E shut off local power as the Oak Fire burned just miles away. Brisburg in 2022, the microgrid has proven its worth and continues to deliver reliable power to the community. In addition, Brisburg’s system has provided clean power with low carbon emissions, running on renewable energy 99% of the time and rarely relying on its propane generators during the winter.

According to BoxPower, PG&E is one of the first utilities in the United States to offer Autonomous Power Systems (SPS), or remote grids, as an alternative to power lines in sparsely populated rural areas. PG&E announced four new remote grid sites in August 2022, which will allow for nearly five miles of overhead power lines to be removed. PG&E also plans to build thirty remote grids (microgrids) by 2026 as part of its wildfire mitigation plan.

UL Solutions’ HOMERĀ® Pro software is the leading pre-capacity design software for microgrid modeling, available to over 250,000 users in over 190 countries. It provides engineering and financial analysis of remote, off-grid and grid-connected energy systems, reducing financial risk for owners and developers. Learn more about HOMER Pro and download a free trial. Microgrids are a key building block of the future wide grid that can meet energy needs.

Please note that this article is over three years old and details may have changed since the date of publication.

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Although the United States’ electric grid is an engineering marvel with more than 9,200 generating units connected by more than 600,000 miles of transmission lines, it is fast approaching its limits. That’s why the U.S. Department of Energy envisions a future “smart” electricity infrastructure that aims to create a more sustainable grid through the use of modern technologies, equipment and controls that communicate and work together to deliver electricity. to create more reliable and efficient.

Yahia Bagzouzi of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and his graduate students have created a small “microread” localization network that can be separated from the traditional network and work independently. This micro-grid will act as a test bed to investigate the various devices needed for the smart grid and technologies that will ultimately help integrate renewable energy resources into the grid infrastructure.

DOE’s Smart Grid Research and Development Program views microgrids as a key building block of a smart grid because they can operate independently of the main electrical infrastructure if necessary. During critical times, such as power outages, the future “smart” grid can be divided into these microgrids that can individually serve the needs of customers.

The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas's Energy Resilience

“Microgrids can enhance grid resilience, which will become increasingly important in the face of increased frequency and severity of power outages caused by extreme weather caused by climate change.” Bagzouz said.

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In , the team uses the microgrid to test the various devices and technologies needed for the smart grid. It will also prove a valuable foundation for electrical engineers and scientists to help make the smart grid a reality.

In the near future, engineers plan to add a battery energy storage system to the microgrid generation fleet. They also plan to develop control systems related to economic drivers that use time-of-day pricing sometimes combined with peak demand charges to determine when and whether energy is fed back into the grid or used from the grid.

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The Role Of Microgrids In Las Vegas's Energy Resilience

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