During a power outage or after a disaster, it is hard to beat the simplicity of a diesel generator. Just supply fuel and start it up—so easy, anyone could do it. Renewable microgrids, on the other hand, are not so simple, with their suite of controls, software, and asset coordination. But the beauty of renewables is that fuel is free and already available on-site, even in remote disaster areas.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has now published a description of the improvised controls that saved NREL during its own outage, which could make microgrids easy and low cost where they are needed most.
The publication, titled “Unleashing the Frequency: Multi-Megawatt Demonstration of 100% Renewable Power Systems with Decentralized Communication-less Control Scheme,” describes a microgrid approach that sidesteps the central controller—an expensive and complicated component—and its reliance on communications, instead using native controls of battery, solar, and wind systems.
“NREL’s approach makes it possible to assemble devices into a microgrid without arduous configuration, relying on just renewable energy and amateur electrical experience—perfect for recoveries in a pinch,” said Przemyslaw Koralewicz, NREL engineer and co-developer of the communication-less method.