GE, Utility, Government, and Academia Partner on Microgrid Project

GE Awarded a $1.2M Department of Energy Grant to Design Technology to Keep Electricity Flowing after Catastrophic Weather Events

NISKAYUNA, NY, December 10, 2014 – GE Global Research and GE Energy Consulting, along with National Grid, the Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Clarkson University today announced a partnership on a research project to improve the reliability and resiliency of electricity delivery in northern New York. The focus area will be the Village of Potsdam, near the Canadian border, which is prone to ice storms that could damage utility lines and other above-ground power infrastructure.

Fueled by a $1.2M grant from the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) and a $300,000 investment from GE, this project will allow for the development of an Enhanced Microgrid Control System (eMCS) designed to be the key element in keeping the town’s electricity system up and running for several days should it become disconnected from the main power station.

The project will also help utilities, like National Grid, better leverage distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar, hydropower, and thermal, in a microgrid scenario.

“The microgrid control system that my team will be developing will bring these renewable power sources online and effectively manage them, along with other traditional generation resources, to improve the reliability and efficiency of the main power grid while helping ensure stable backup power in the event of a blackout,” said Sumit Bose, principal investigator on the project and microgrid technology leader at GE Global Research. “It’s a vital component and critical to the system’s resiliency and overall performance.”

“We are pleased to play a leadership role in this exciting energy initiative. It is a perfect extension to the modeling and design work we are performing right now,” said Ken Daly, National Grid’s New York President. “This is exactly the type of project that allows us to modernize the grid, while embracing innovation and efficiency to provide customers with the service they demand in the 21st century.”

GE researchers will develop the eMCS with two main goals in mind: to provide resilient, high-quality power delivery to the local community and efficient, reliable grid services to the local utility. The program will be closely aligned with the specific energy needs and power resources available in and around Potsdam, with the option to include resources like 3 megawatts (MW) of combined heat & power generators, 2MW of solar photovoltaic, 2MW of energy storage and 900kW or more of hydro-electric generation.

Additionally, the system will feature specially-designed control algorithms with a graphical user interface for the operator. The control system will be flexible, scalable and secure, and will have a hierarchical structure of three controllers operating on different timescales to maximize efficiencies and ensure all assets function as needed to maintain a constant, steady flow of electricity.

Notably, this DOE-funded initiative will augment the community’s plans to construct a new underground system for power and communications during emergency situations. This system would connect approximately twelve entities, including emergency service providers, utilities, power generation sources, and staging areas, along with housing, fuel, and food providers.

A typical GE control platform which can be used to host intelligent grid management software for microgrids.
A typical GE control platform which can be used to host intelligent grid management software for microgrids.

 

“New York State’s North Country is a region where we have first-hand knowledge of the tremendous impact that weather can have on our utilities’ infrastructure,” said Clarkson University President Tony Collins. “So, we are excited to be partnering in research that will have an impact not only on Clarkson’s neighbors, but also on communities like Potsdam around our state and nation, where severe weather can be disruptive to lives and commerce.”

“Together, GE’s control system, and the underground microgrid envisioned for the Potsdam community, could serve as a model for towns and cities across the country that are susceptible to weather disasters and blackouts,” added Bose.

Microgrid technology is already beginning to transform the U.S. power grid. In 2012, “SuperStorm” Sandy, one of the most deadly and destructive hurricanes in American history, caused widespread damage to power lines, leaving over six million customers without electricity. During the storm and its aftermath, microgrids, with their local distributed energy resources, were able to sustain hospitals and other relief operations for more than two days, until grid power was restored.

The two-year DOE project will begin with 18 months of engineering and design at GE Global Research, followed by a 6-month testing period at NREL where a microgrid simulating the infrastructure needs in Potsdam will be set up.

“Microgrids support a flexible and efficient electric grid, enabling the integration of renewable and distributed energy resources such as wind and solar energy; combined heat and power; energy storage; and demand response,” said Bryan Hannegan, NREL’s Associate Director for Energy Systems Integration. “NREL is excited to be working with GE to accelerate the development of microgrids that can provide a reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity supply.”

GE’s Energy Consulting business will be conducting a feasibility study for the demonstration of the controller, reporting on the potential benefits for the Village of Potsdam and National Grid of deploying the new technology and determining operating procedures to ensure the control system functions properly.

Earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Potsdam underground microgrid design project, where GE will work with partners to plan and design a resilient underground microgrid for the Village of Potsdam. This Clarkson University-led effort is being funded by National Grid, and through a $381,000 grant from NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, as part of a larger, $3.3M state allocation for projects aimed at improving the resiliency and efficiency of the state’s electric grid.

About GE Global Research

GE Global Research is the hub of technology development for all of GE’s businesses. Our scientists and engineers redefine what’s possible, drive growth for our businesses, and find answers to some of the world’s toughest problems.
We innovate 24 hours a day, with sites in Niskayuna, New York; San Ramon, California; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; Munich, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Visit GE Global Research on the web at www.geglobalresearch.com. Connect with our technologists at www.geglobalresearch.com/blog and twitter.com/geresearch.

About National Grid

National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE:NGG) is an electricity and gas company that connects consumers to energy sources through its networks. The company is at the heart of one of the greatest challenges facing our society – to create new, sustainable energy solutions for the future and developing an energy system that underpins economic prosperity in the 21st century. National Grid holds a vital position at the center of the energy system and it ‘joins everything up’.

In the northeast US, we connect more than seven million gas and electric customers to vital energy sources, essential for our modern lifestyles. In Great Britain, we run the gas and electricity systems that our society is built on, delivering gas and electricity across the country.

National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

For more information please visit our website: www.nationalgridus.com

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About Clarkson University

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise. Find out more about Clarkson on the Web at www.clarkson.edu, or on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

Media Contacts:
Todd Alhart
GE Global Research
518-387-7914
todd.alhart@ge.com

Virginia Limmiatis
National Grid
315-452-7708
virginia.limmiatis@nationalgrid.com

Michael Griffin
Clarkson University
315-268-6716
mgriffin@clarkson.edu

David Glickson
NREL
303-275-4097
david.glickson@nrel.gov

Acknowledgment: This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy under Award Number(s) DE-OE0000728.

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