Seoul Energy Visits Princeton's Energy Plant

By Emily Riskalla posted 09-28-2017 16:20

  

Emily Riskalla, International District Energy Association


On September 21, 2017, Baird Brown and Ted Borer, of the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC) with Dr. John Byrne, head of the Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment and the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware, hosted the CEO and other executives from Seoul Energy Corporation in their visit to the Princeton Energy Plant. The Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment (http://freefutures.org/), which is led by Dr. Byrne, organized Seoul Energy’s U.S. tour, which began in California, then moved on to Philadelphia and Princeton before concluding in New York City.

The Seoul Energy Corporation is an agency established to supervise energy policies and lead the nuclear power plant reduction project in the metropolitan city of Seoul. Jin Sub Park, Seoul Energy’s CEO, along with colleagues Jung Min Yu, Chang Woo Cho, and Yog Dae Kim came to discuss and witness best practices in microgrids, district energy, combined heat & power, thermal storage, and economic dispatch. And there certainly is plenty to witness at the Princeton Energy Plant.

The Princeton Energy Plant is a district energy system that provides electricity, steam, and chilled water to power, heat, and cool the buildings on the Princeton University campus. Princeton is also home to one of the more recognized microgrids in the Northeast. The Princeton system is well known in New England and across the country as the system that kept the lights on at Princeton University during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The plant has four main components: steam boilers, water chillers, an electric generator, and a large thermal energy storage system (TES). The boilers and water chillers have capacities of 300,000 pounds of steam per hour and 20,000 tons of cooling capacity, and 40,000 ton-hours of storage capacity, respectively. Princeton’s plant has the ability to operate at efficiencies in the range of 80%, a far cry from the typical efficiency range of 25-45% for a utility energy plant. At the heart of Princeton’s microgrid lies a gas turbine, capable of producing 15 MW of electricity, which is about equal to Princeton’s average electricity needs on any given day. On sunny days, this power is supplemented by a 4.5 MW solar field. Princeton’s microgrid typically operates synchronized with the local utility, however in an emergency (in the case of Hurricane Sandy), it will run independently to meet as much of the electricity needs of the university as possible.

During Seoul Energy’s visit to Princeton, members from the three organizations discussed challenges they each face in reducing CO2 emissions, improving efficiency, and working with regulations and tariff structures that no longer reflect the realities of the power grid. Of particular interest was that Seoul Energy Corporation faces many of the same tariff and regulatory hurdles to market access that we do here in the United States, proving that the struggle to provide fair access for microgrids into the electric power market is really a global one.

Princeton University and Drinker Biddle & Reath are both members of the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC), a national consortium of leading microgrid owners, operators, developers, suppliers. The MRC promotes the widespread implementation of microgrids through advocacy for laws, regulations and tariffs that support their access to market, compensate them for their services, and provide a level playing field for their deployment and operations.

It was an honor for Princeton to host the Seoul Energy Corporation representatives on their visit to the US.

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Pictured Left to Right: Yong Dae Kim, Seoul Energy Corporation (SEC) Energy Efficiency Team manager; Jung Min Yu, SEC Chief Researcher; Baird Brown, Of Council, Drinker Biddle & Reath; Dr. John Byrne, Chairman and President, Foundation for Renewable Energy and Environment; Jin Sub Park, SEC CEO; Ted Borer, Energy Plant Manager, Princeton University; and Chang Woo Cho, SEC Solar Energy Team General Manager



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