Darrell Proctor, POWER Magazine
A distribution center in Finland is installing what is being called the country’s largest industrial microgrid, a system that will use 100% renewable energy. The system is being built by Schneider Electric in Järvenpää. It will be used by Lidl, a grocery store chain based in Germany. “It’s a tremendous project,” said Matthieu Mournier, Schneider Electric’s head of microgrid business based in France.
Mournier spoke with POWER on November 13 at Schneider Electric’s Innovation Summit North America in Atlanta, Georgia. Mournier said the distribution center is the size of 10 football fields (Figure 1) and is “the largest industrial microgrid in Finland.” The project, which will use power generated by 1,600 rooftop solar panels, is expected to come online in 2019. The microgrid is designed to cut the center’s energy costs in half. The system also heats the facility—it recovers heat from the distribution center’s refrigeration equipment—and supplies hot water to about 500 nearby homes. The microgrid also serves the region’s electric grid via its battery storage system.
“The Lidl distribution center is much like any of our other microgrids,” said Andy Haun, chief technology officer for microgrid business for Schneider Electric, in an interview with POWER at the Innovation Summit. “It’s a mixture of DERs [distributed energy resources] on-site that can connect to the grid or not connect to the grid.” In the case of an outage on the grid, the facility would island, or disconnect from the grid. Haun said his group designs its systems to reduce energy costs. “Rather than add heavyweight costs, [we] stick the resilience at the edge. We’re working with hospitals, providing backup [generation], powering nuclear facility control rooms, providing safe, reliable, resilient power.”