Thursday, July 6, 2017

NJ thinking seriously about deploying energy microgrids

Trenton’s downtown thermal-energy district funded to determine if microgrids can deliver power and other vital services when power grid goes down

Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:

Richard Mroz, BPU president
Richard Mroz, BPU president
Trenton’s relatively unnoticed energy center, which has delivered heating and cooling to 30 buildings in the capital for 34 years, is looking to get an impressive upgrade.
The downtown thermal-energy district network is one of 13 town centers divvying up $2 million in state money to study the possibility of establishing microgrids —energy centers capable of providing the power and other needs to keep critical services running even if the traditional power grid fails.

Greater resilience and reliability

The study is part of the Christie administration’s efforts to build greater resiliency and reliability into services that often were disrupted or curtailed during major storms like Hurricane Sandy. Hospitals were evacuated, drinking-water supplies polluted, and billions of gallons of raw sewage-fouled the state’s waterways as various systems shut down, sometimes for a week or more.
The Board of Public Utilities hopes that the communities will use the money to figure out if establishing town-center microgrids is the way to ensure critical facilities are kept up and operating.
In most cases, the towns, or in a few instances, counties, will look into developing smaller, but efficient power units, dubbed combined heat and power (CHP), to provide the electricity and heat needed to keep services running. Or they may opt to try energy storage systems, fuel cells, or other emerging technologies.
Microgrids are not a new concept, but have gained many adherents as more reliance is being put on distributed energy resources, or smaller, localized power units, to provide backup power.

Read the full story here

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