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Team of Alstom Grid and Burns Engineering, Inc. Wins Department of Energy Grant for Microgrid Controller Technology Development

09/12/14

Department of Energy Secretary Moniz announced that Alstom Grid, together with Burns Engineering, Inc., Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Philadelphia Water Department, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has won a Department of Energy grant to advance the science, technology and commercialization of microgrid control. Microgrids are expected to be a critical component of the future electric grid by acting as a platform for cleaner, more resilient energy infrastructure that integrates distributed energy resources (including renewable power and energy storage), withstand blackouts and recover quickly from extreme weather events.

Microgrids are localized grids, typically connected to the traditional power grid, which can also disconnect to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances and outages. The Energy Department already supports a wide range of microgrid activities, including projects with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to demonstrate that microgrids can maintain reliable and resilient electric power generation and distribution on military installations.

In announcing the grant award, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz explained, “Building in grid resiliency has gained greater urgency in recent years, as demonstrated by the economic and personal losses from electricity outages due to severe weather. Keeping the power on during extreme weather events and other electric grid disruptions is essential, particularly so that critical facilities such as hospitals and water treatment plants can continue operating.”

Burns and Alstom Grid are currently working together to implement the foundational elements of an advanced microgrid at The Philadelphia Navy Yard, a rapidly growing mixed-use commercial and industrial campus located at the southern edge of Philadelphia on the banks of the Delaware River. According to David Smith, Burns’ Director of Energy Services, “This new grant will complement our existing Navy Yard Grid Modernization and Smart Energy Campus Program, and will provide research and development support from national laboratories who will use The Navy Yard asa simulation environment to understand the functional requirements and operating features of a microgrid controller.” The larger goal, according to Smith, “is to speed commercialization of microgrid controllers, which enable the integration and optimization of energy assets with the objective to reduce overall energy cost for the microgrid.”

Burns and Alstom will work with other team members including Philadelphia Water Department and Pacific Northwest National Labs to develop business use cases and simulated microgrid environments requiring control based on anticipated deployments distributed generation, renewable power and energy storage systems at The Navy Yard. Said Smith, “this grant will accelerate our effort to establish The Navy Yard’s microgrid system as one off the most robust and advanced energy systems in the country.”

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