Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scouts Report SPIDERS Creeps Ahead: Latest on DOD Smart Grid Effort

Got a couple of scout reports on the progress of SPIDERS; let’s get up to speed. The Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) has recently (June 2012) begun construction for Phase One at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH). In December I told you that it appeared that the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) were accepting some new technical ideas and applique of microgrid components along with novel architecture for an Enterprise solution from the Burns & McDonnell.  Burns & McDonnell has teamed with IPERC and have developed a new distributed control method for the operation of the microgrid.

Remember, for security, centralized is bad, distributed is good. Many have talked about intelligent power management, but what appears to be surfacing is a much more robust method that moves control from a centralized concept to a network.

The software is installed at the load and/or power source (generator, solar array, etc.) and determines the consumption requirements and the available generation to set priority based on the needs and available energy. This allows for fuel consumption optimization, while ensuring power to all critical loads. Furthermore, the intelligent software adapts to modifying environments and equipment changes in real time without human user interface and offers enhanced energy security. If the promise of this system is realized, then we are a step closer to achieving actual energy security. JBPHH is now a named area of interest and we will keep it under observation.  
SPIDERS Phase 2 was awarded on 22 June.  Details at FedBizOpps (search for W9128F12R0014).  Congrats to Burns & McDonnell on this $7M win. The following is the intel to date.    The objective of this phase is to:
  • Demonstrate increased reliability for multiple critical and priority mission loads resulting from the interconnection of distributed electrical generation assets using the existing distribution network
  • Increase endurance of diesel generated backup power through the use of renewable energy sources during outages
  • Increase efficiency of diesel backup generators by implementing sophisticated control approaches across the microgrid system
  • Operational risk reduction through strong focus on cyber security. 

Renewable energy in Phase 2 is expected to double which will emphasize the challenges of energy storage and load management. Their goal is to have an operational demo in Spring of 2013.  Need to get that contract let!

Phase III will be at Camp H.M. Smith, HI.  This will be the first DoD project to implement an Energy Surety MicrogridTM for an entire military installation.  This type of microgrid is the trademarked product of Sandia National Labs which is operated by Lockheed Martin for the DOE.  It is supposed to include fully integrating Smart Grid technologies, distributed backup generation, renewable energy generation and storage.  Critical to the surety aspect is a cyber-defense with the ability to operate autonomously for extended periods during long-duration power outages.  This microgrid is supposed to include actual isolation switches and load management.

The SPIDERS program has its challenges, but getting this many folks from different branches of government, multiple industry partners and the utilities to do anything together is a monumental achievement. I salute the folks running this JCTD and all their cooperative partners.  It is far from perfect, but with so many other DOD energy projects facing fits and starts, this one continues to bull ahead.  Dan Nolan

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