The State of California is transitioning its electric power grid from hydro- and carbon-based central power generation to an equal blend of central power generation and distributed generation from renewable energy sources.
However, major issues must be resolved before the 50/50 split between central plant and renewable energy generation can be achieved – from the management of the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, to the best methods of coordinating and controlling large-scale distribution of renewable energy resources.
WSP is designing a project to demonstrate a micro grid that combines solar generation and two forms of energy storage – large-scale battery for electrical energy storage, and large-scale thermal energy storage. Currently in the final design stage, the micro grid will be integrated into the electrical grid of Las Positas College, a community college in Livermore, California.
“The Las Positas College grid provides a unique opportunity to study and evaluate means and methods to manage impacts to the grid from high-density renewable energy generation sources,” said Bruce Rich, area construction manager and program manager for WSP.
Using this combination for micro grid control technology, he said, is “an innovative combination of multiple energy storage and generation sources.”
He estimates the immediate benefit to the college will be $100,000 in annual cost savings, adding that the local utilities will benefit from a reduction in power surges, plus a reduction in longer-term peak energy usage.
“This is an exciting innovation with multiple reapplication,” Rich said. “Energy storage and the micro grid software are key to effective use of renewable energy sources.”