Andrew Burger, Microgrid Knowledge
As an early adopter of microgrids and distributed energy, Harvard University continues to lead the way in demonstrating energy security, reliability, sustainability and resilience for higher education.
Harvard’s history of producing and distributing power, heat and water dates back a long way. Having been a district heating customer since the early 20th century, the university purchased the Blackstone steam heating plant from the local utility in 2003 when Massachusetts restructured power industry ownership rules.
The university installed combined heat and power (CHP) in 2009, with a second addition in early 2016, according to Robert Manning, director of Harvard University Engineering & Utilities. Today, one of the CHP units serves a 7.5 MW load pocket as a microgrid, capable of both islanding and blackstart (automatic startup) service.
“Harvard’s Cambridge campus has always had its own internal electric grid, allowing greater response to campus needs, as well as ensuring high levels of maintenance and renewal on our distribution system,” Manning told Microgrid Knowledge. “Building and operating a microgrid is a complex endeavor, requiring skilled internal resources as well as key partners in all aspects of the system life cycle – design consultants, equipment vendors, controls, operations, maintenance, etc.”
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