Electrical systems design and engineering construction specialist Faith Technologies and Schneider Electric have built what's billed as a “state of the art”, clean energy microgrid at the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton, Wisconsin.
It stands to reason that an organization responsible for environmental stewardship of a nature preserve wants to minimize its carbon and overall environmental footprint. It appears that's exactly what Faith Technologies and Schneider Electric microgrid had in mind when designing and engineering the Bubolz Center's microgrid.
The system incorporates a 200-kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system, a 65-kW micro-turbine, a 30-kW hydrogen fuel cell, a Panasonic, 100-kW lithium-ion battery energy storage system and a 60-kW Kohler natural gas generator to power the Bubolz Center's 18,000 sq. ft. nature center building.
Compelling economics and overall benefits
All that said, it was the attractive economics and other benefits the clean energy microgrid Faith Technologies and Schneider Electric promised to deliver that ultimately led Bubolz Nature Preserve executives to make the decision to move forward and have the platform built.
“This microgrid was designed and engineered by Faith’s team of energy experts and utilizes specialized equipment and technology made possible through our collaboration with a very forward-thinking partner; Schneider Electric,” said Mike Jansen, CEO of Faith Technologies.
“We worked together to make sure we were creating a solution that was not only environmentally smart, but enhanced the preserve’s organizational sustainability through cost effective energy efficiency as well.”
Faith saw to the engineering, procurement and construction aspects of the project, including integration of a wide variety of power generation and distribution equipment and associated software. Schneider's Energy Control Center serves as the “brains” of the microgrid platform. As Schneider describes it, its Energy Control Center is “an intelligent, pre-engineered power control center.”
Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure Microgrid Adviser, in turn, autonomously configures the DERs (distributed energy resources) into a range of different permutations to produce the most efficient, clean, and cost-effective combination of energy resources available at any given time.
Changing with the times
Utilities across the U.S. are shifting from traditional, flat-rate, consumption-based customer rate schemes to time-of-use pricing based on the time of day, as well as quantity, of electrical energy or power they use.
“Energy pricing and resource availability can change minute by minute, so this modular, scalable, repeatable microgrid technology will help the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve unlock better financial sustainability,” according to Schneider.
“By using tools like Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor, the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve microgrid will also have greater control over energy to achieve its goals by optimizing when energy is consumed, produced, or stored,” added Don Wingate, Schneider Electric's vice president, Strategic Customers and Microgrid Solutions.
It's also going to reduce the nature preserve's direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental footprint. The nature preserve's energy security will improve as well, given the microgrid's ability to disconnect from the utility grid and continue supplying power based from the platform's energy generation and storage assets in the event the utility grid goes down.
Faith Technologies and Schneider Electric consider the Bubolz Nature Preserve microgrid one of the most advanced and sophisticated clean energy systems of its kind. The system software is cloud-connected, so they expect system capabilities and performance to improve with time, as upgrades and modifications are made in line with the nature preserve's energy usage and needs, utility rates and greater predictive ability gained as the system builds up and learns how best to optimize microgrid performance in the specific operating environment over time.
“A microgrid allows business owners to control one of the top expenses they face today, energy costs,” Jansen said. “This microgrid at Bubolz was designed to showcase the wide range of clean energy components that can make up a microgrid. From solar panels to microturbines, we’re able to customize an energy solution that is tailored to each individual business. Microgrids provide control, in the form of uninterrupted clean energy, to today’s energy-reliant businesses.”
*Images credit: Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve