23. 03. 2017
MICROGRIDS: SETTING THE PATH TOWARDS A MORE RESILIENT URBAN FUTURE
BY Mikel De Prada and Jose Luis Domínguez-García, IREC
In the coming years, the Energy sector will change completely its paradigm. It is already happening due to the disruption of the ICT technologies, the cost reduction of the renewable energy sources (RES), energy storage systems (ESS) and other grid devices (as power electronics) which make the grid smarter, in other words, more controllable and more observable. One of the goals of this future energy system is to ensure that the power will be delivered in a secure and stable way under any circumstance.
From the cities point-of-view and under the future energy scenario (close to 100% of renewable energy in the generation share), the consumers won’t be a passive actor but an active agent with decision capacity and even its own generation (known as prosumers). Additionally, novel automation devices capable of detecting the grid status and operating automatically protections are starting to appear in the market, which allows more grid automation.
This new actor and devices lead to the so-called microgrids (in the city – rural environment) which are small electrical systems including generation, consumption and storage that can be connected to the main grid or work islanded.
The microgrid concept offers several advantages to customers and utilities, such as greater flexibility, an improvement of reliability of supply and energy efficiency of the system, as well as the possibility to contribute to enhance power quality, optimize the cost-benefit of the electrical infrastructure or for congestion relief purposes. Furthermore, microgrids may increase electrical grid resiliency since, it is capable of disconnect their grid from the main grid, in case of need, and start to operate in islanding mode (autonomously). This is feasible since the consumption loads (at least the critical) may be fed by the own generation (i.e. solar PV or microwind) and energy storage –including flywheels, energy capacitors, batteries or electrical vehicles with “Vehicle to Grid” (V2G) capabilities-. This means, that under any critical situation, the distribution grid may be divided in small parts of it, for minimizing the impact of such catastrophe.
These facts allow us to say that “Electrical Grid Resiliency” of the distribution electrical network will be standing in small pieces of a puzzle called Electrical Power System.
Today, microgrids are still in the early development stage. However, it is clear that the idea of deploying microgrids across cities and metropolitan areas is growing interest due to the aforementioned inherent advantages and the increasingly concern of power outages caused by extreme weather, such as a flood or drought, induced by the climate change.
Within RESCCUE project, the current and future electric scenarios in cities will be investigated as well as novel electric concepts (e.g. microgrids) which may enhance the electrical grid resilience. Additionally, the existing interactions and resiliency reinforcement obtained to the other sectors (i.e. water, transport, etc) from the electrical grid improvement will be evaluated.