New Industry Products

Using Software Tools to Evolve Microgrid Ecosystems

October 03, 2022 by Stephanie Leonida

Xendee introduced its new multi-mode feature for developing complex microgrid networks whether focusing on utility-scale operations or those in large facilities.

Xendee Corporation (Xendee) has announced the addition of a new multi-mode feature to its microgrid planning and optimization software platform. The new feature allows engineers to construct more comprehensive microgrid networks. Multi-mode is intended to help engineers create the most appropriate architectural designs for more complex microgrid systems while satisfying power demand and saving time and money.


Image used courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy


Recap: Microgrids

In a previous article from EE Power, we learned about the nature of microgrids and why they are important in the energy transition. Just to recap, a microgrid is a local power grid that can be connected to the main power grid or disconnected from the grid to operate as an independent grid system.

A microgrid takes a decentralized approach to power distribution, which can be more cost-effective and sustainable for numerous reasons. One reason is that microgrids incorporate distributed energy resources (DERs). The presence of these DERs means that renewable energy from solar, wind, or wave sources can be integrated, reducing the reliance on fossil-fuel-based sources.

Distributed energy resources can also take the form of battery storage systems which can bank or hold collected renewable energy. This stored energy can be released back to the main grid to reduce peak loads when energy demand is high, which can, in turn, alleviate stress and reduce the likelihood of power outages. If serving as a stand-alone microgrid, the energy can simply be used in the local region where the microgrid is located. In this scenario, energy can be sourced at a lower price than what utilities may offer when the main grid is facing peaks in energy demand.

Some more rural communities do not have a connection to the main grid. Building out connections to reach such areas is one solution, and installing a local stand-alone microgrid is another. Building out new transmission lines and updating old infrastructure can be quite costly, but setting up a microgrid can be costly too. For this reason, tools that can help plan and establish a microgrid site become invaluable to project investors. 


Constructing Microgrid Networks

Xendee has announced the addition of a new multi-mode feature to its microgrid planning and optimization software platform. The new feature allows engineers to construct more comprehensive microgrid networks. Small-scale microgrids can be connected and facilitate the operation of 25 different types of technology (from solar photovoltaic or PV cells, battery storage, hydrokinetic, hydrogen, and more).

Power system engineers can bring together multiple nodes together within a microgrid system by using a bus bar. A bus bar is a solid metal strip or bar used to carry current. The bar allows multiple loads or technologies to be circuited together. Each node in the microgrid ecosystem operates as its very own energy node with the ability to connect to the different technologies (up to 25).


Image used courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy


Xendee’s multi-mode feature also provides engineers with real-world location data for each node in the network. This means that project plans can be optimized to maximize return on investment.

Multi-mode users assess transformer requirements, cable lengths, and losses incurred from distances between energy nodes. Customers can connect nodes to building loads such as lighting systems or industrial motors. Multi-mode can provide the most suitable functionality method to accommodate high loads for a given facility area. Engineers can use multi-mode to place technologies closer to sources of energy consumption, reducing costs for using excess distribution equipment in the process. Multi-mode can be adapted to add a modeling layer looking at voltage and power flow. Models can then generate energy outputs tailored to specific site needs while considering power constraints on electrical equipment such as cables. Reports concerning individual node power flow network losses, voltage, dispatch, and a system balance table, can also be accessed.