A new white paper from Enchanted Rock explores how the distributed generation technologies of dual purpose microgrids can offer both value to site hosts as well as stability to the grid at large.
The introduction of renewable energy technologies to the grid “represents more than just a migration to cleaner energy technologies,” according to Enchanted Rock. It “changes the grid composition to be more dependent on highly variable resources such as solar and wind,” which can lead to challenges with both grid stability and reliability. The increasing number of electric vehicles in the U.S. market will also add to those challenges. Dual purpose microgrids can provide a resilient solution.
The paper explains that while the U.S. power grid is reliable compared to many places in the world, the country is lagging behind other industrialized nations. The authors use the February 2021 extended outage in Texas as a prime example saying, “the damage to the Texas economy was on par with a Category 5 hurricane.”
“Dual purpose microgrids are local power systems that offer sustained resiliency services to customer sites to survive long duration power outages, but which also provide support services to the larger grid and wholesale markets, which reduces the overall cost of each of these services.” – Enchanted Rock, “Enhancing Resiliency for the Energy Transition“
Enchanted Rock had a fleet of dual purpose microgrids in the state at the time of the outage. They report that without them, “143 customers, many of which are considered critical facilities, would have had outages lasting for as long as 4 consecutive days. All told, these dual purpose microgrids operated in support of onsite resilience and provision of grid services for the larger ERCOT grid network support for 8 consecutive days.”
The authors explain how dual purpose microgrids work, saying that they “do not compete with grid supplied power, but instead displace our historical reliance on backup diesel generators, which represent one of the most polluting of all power generation options.” They also generate a new revenue stream by supporting the wider grid during times of crisis.
Enchanted Rock also discusses the energy transition and shifting energy infrastructure priorities in the paper and how modular dual purpose microgrids can serve commercial and industrial customers, communities, and the larger electric grid.