August 12, 2019 | Diesel Technology Forum
What do a craft brewery, a medical center, a wastewater treatment plant and a city in New Jersey have in common?
Microgrids bring together the best of both worlds - renewable sources of prime power – such as wind and solar - combined with battery storage, and reliability that is ensured thanks to backup fossil-fueled generators (natural gas or diesel), all in an integrated system, self-contained on-site.
What do a craft brewery, a medical center, a wastewater treatment plant and a city in New Jersey have in common? They all use microgrids to generate their electrical power.
Continuous electrical supply is often taken for granted, until the power goes out. Then it is a problem, well beyond inconvenience, it is an economic and public safety necessity for businesses, government and institutions alike. Today these entities are taking matters into their own hands and turning to new approaches for electrical supply that are independent of the main electrical grid.
Known as microgrids, these systems bring together the best of both worlds - renewable sources of prime power – such as wind and solar – combined with battery storage, and reliability that is ensured thanks to backup fossil-fueled generators (natural gas or diesel), all in an integrated system, self-contained on-site. Fossil fueled generators – particularly diesel power – play a key role by ensuring continuous electrical supply if the wind isn’t blowing or sun isn’t shining, or the natural gas supply has been cut off.
Leaders in power generation today provide far more than just engines, but entire integrated solutions for businesses and institutions, like these:
- When the power goes out, some of us want to make sure there is a cold beverage available. That’s why Maui Brewing, one of Hawaii’s largest craft breweries turned to Cummins, to install an integrated solution that relies on a variety of sustainable sources of power, including solar and battery storage to take advantage of Hawaii’s 3,000 hours of sunshine. The system is also paired with a state-of-the-art near-zero emissions Tier 4 diesel generator. The solution meets Maui Brewing’s requirement to operate sustainably and off-the-grid while maintaining uninterrupted operations even in the worst conditions to make sure Hawaii residents have a cold one ready when the big one hits. Cheers!
- Outside a major city, a sprawling suburban regional medical center campus gets its electrical power from an efficient combined heat and power system fueled by natural gas, and now with an integrated microgrid by MTU, that has installed 2,000 kilowatts of standby power generated by two large near-zero emissions (“aka Tier 4”) diesel generators. These state-of-the art diesel units provide mission critical back-up power in the event of a natural gas supply disruption or turbine outage, and they do so while achieving near-zero emissions performance, that is vital to contributing to regional air quality compliance.
- The City of Linden, NJ turned to Caterpillar, to make sure the municipality was ready for the next superstorm. In 2012, the city of 40,000 was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and was without power for two weeks. Since then, city officials worked with Caterpillar to install a bi-fuel microgrid for the city that relies on pipeline natural gas along with a near-zero emissions (“Tier 4”) diesel generator capable of providing power during a multi-day outage. Because that system achieves very low emissions, the City of Linden is permitted to operate the system even when the grid power is not out to lessen the electricity load, especially the during peak summer tourist season, and reduce their electricity bill.
- Waste water treatment facilities aren’t high-profile, but they provide a vital public health function and one that protects the nation’s streams, rivers and drinking water from sewage contamination, making reliability paramount every day. MTU Onsite Energy installed a unique microgrid solution for a treatment plant in New Jersey. The system relies on biogas generated by the plant itself coupled with standby capability provided by diesel generators. Because sources of biogas may be intermittent, the diesel standby capability is mission critical to make sure the treatment is operating as intended for this New Jersey community.
From these examples, today’s microgrids deliver the best of both worlds - the renewables that you want, with the reliability that you need. A smart solution takes advantage of the unique capabilities of ready and available proven fuels and technologies. Wind and solar can be combined with near-zero emissions capabilities of proven natural gas or diesel generators to make sure critical and not-so-critical assets keep functioning in the event of a severe weather event or power disruption, keeping the beer flowing, the city functioning, the hospital operating and the water treated.