GE awarded $2M contract to demo Smart Microgrid

GE awarded $2M contract to demo Smart Microgrid

With the goals of increasing energy security, energy efficiency, and promoting cleaner, alternative energy at U.S. military bases, GE announced it has been awarded $2 million in Federal stimulus funding from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for a smart microgrid demonstration project at Twentynine Palms Base, California. The base is the world's largest Marine Corps Base and it is the premier training facility in the world for Marine operations, drawing military personnel from all over the world for Combined Arms Exercises. GE and the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) office at DOD are in the process of finalizing a contract for the project.

GE will design and demonstrate a smart energy management system that enables installations to more optimally manage on-site power generation and energy storage, while interacting with the regional electrical grid in a more intelligent and efficient way. Additionally, GE’s system will provide enhanced capabilities for installations to integrate renewable resources, such as solar energy, to help meet their electricity needs and reduce their carbon footprints.

According to the 2009 Defense Appropriations Act, U.S. military installations consumed 3.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity last year, enough electricity to power 350,000 households in the United States. In addition to high energy costs for these installations, critical defense facilities must operate seamlessly through a power outage or other infrastructure disturbance. These are two key challenges that a smarter, more intelligent grid management system will help to address.

“GE’s smart microgrid demonstration project will show how a more intelligent energy management system can help military bases further safeguard the operation of their power systems while also reducing overall energy costs,” said John Kern, Manager of GE’s Smart Grid Research Lab. “This project will serve as a model for other bases and it also will demonstrate how similar types of facilities, such as industrial complexes and universities, can take advantage of a smarter grid.”

U.S. military bases typically manage power in two ways: local power is generated on site for critical facility needs; and, the bases are connected to the larger U.S. electrical grid network. As part of the project, GE will provide an enhanced suite of microgrid control system technologies that will enable a military base to more effectively manage its local energy resources as well as the interaction with the larger electrical grid network.

To develop this new system, researchers at GE Global Research in Upstate New York will develop and incorporate advanced algorithms and computational decision engines into a microgrid controller built by GE Digital Energy. This microgrid controller will optimize the power generation and distribution within the microgrid.

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms will also integrate many of these advanced technologies into a new supervisory control and software system that can span power generation and distribution as well as major power consumers within the microgrid.GE has completed considerable research and development in microgrids in recent years for both the U.S. Department of Energy and the Canadian government. Because microgrids are essentially self-contained systems, they have great potential for enabling a higher penetration of clean, renewable power sources into the electrical distribution network. For contained complexes like a military base that can supplement their own power needs with power generation onsite, microgrids can be an attractive option for bringing more renewable power online.

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