Establishing Microgrids Using Automated Cloud-based Software
Let’s explore the process of microgrid design, optimization, and implementation using advanced software tools.
With the clean energy transition underway, the energy landscape is evolving to include more complex, interconnected energy generation and distribution systems. A growing trend in the energy industry is the rise of microgrid systems.
This trend represents a shift from archetypal remote centralized power stations toward localized power generation and distribution. In a previous article from EE Power, we explored the nature of microgrids and why they are important.
In this article, we will explore some available software solutions used to design and optimize microgrid projects.
Image used courtesy of Pixabay
Design and Optimization Platform Basics
Generally, current design and optimization software platforms combine analytics, modeling, simulation, and insight generation to allow microgrid project owners to:
- Assess and pin down the feasibility of undertaking a project
- Design an optimal system in line with project goals
- Procure funding from investors
- Commence construction
- Maintain the flow of operations
Microgrid Project Development
that employs a Geographic Information System (GIS) and Graphical User Interface (GUI) to help users explore different project site configurations. Different technologies can be dragged and dropped onto a satellite map interface. Built-in catalogs for technologies, utility data, and energy prices can also be accessed during microgrid site design.
GIS mapping is used in the initial stages of microgrid project design to choose a suitable site and configure an optimum microgrid system setup. Image used courtesy of Xendee
Comparatively, HOMER Energy, by UL Solutions, provides customers with the ability to select a site location with a mapping system through its HOMER Pro Software. Customers can also select functions to configure their desired microgrid project in a graphical schematic, adding different power, renewable energy sources, and loads. For example, an electrical load can describe equipment or technology that consumes electrical energy. To discover more about HOMER Pro’s setup process, you can visit this page.
Optimizing Microgrid Design
Xendee’s platform employs autonomous generative algorithms to enrich feasibility planning. In 2020, the company announced a new algorithm that allows microgrid design to be analyzed and optimized over a multi-year period (up to 50 years). A multi-year algorithm provides the foresight of understanding how changes in the financial or technical aspects of a microgrid project may impact development. Users may wish to carry out a multi-year analysis that takes certain variables into account, such as technology costs, changing energy prices, and new regulations. Usage parameters and relationships with utilities can also be specified.
Comparatively, HOMER Energy, by UL Solutions, provides the ability to simulate microgrid operations across a single year through its HOMER Pro Software. The software generates hundreds to thousands of microgrid systems (each with different microgrid equipment setups) through simulations in a single model run. This type of modeling allows microgrid project owners to assess the impact of variables (such as fuel costs and wind speed) on a given microgrid system.
Like Xendee, HOMER Energy also utilizes specialized algorithms for optimizing microgrid design. The HOMER Pro optimization algorithm, HOMER Optimizer, enables customers to find the most suitable low-cost option for a microgrid setup.
Analyzing Power Flow
When a microgrid system is being created, it is important to establish whether or not it can handle the voltages of peak usage. Cloud-based software platforms can provide customers with power flow analysis tools to assess the integrity of microgrid system designs. Users can check load capabilities, conduct short circuit analyses, and assess changes to the system in the event of an extended power outage.
From Virtual Microgrid to Real-World System
What do you do when you have finished designing your optimum microgrid system? Construct it to go live! This final stage in making the virtual microgrid a real-world system typically involves cross-talk between engineers, contractors, and management.
Xendee offers implementation and project management software to facilitate real-time workflow automation, planning, and improved site productivity.
Image used courtesy of Pixabay
From start to finish, the design, optimization, and construction of microgrids is a highly complex process that requires extensive planning, testing, and analysis. Advanced software systems such as those detailed in this article provide a means of expediting the decision-making process concerning which microgrid projects are economically, environmentally, and technically feasible.
Today's world is seeing a growing need for incorporating green technologies and renewable energy into power generation and distribution systems. Microgrid design and optimization support software can help get microgrids on the map faster to keep pace with the energy transition.