Monday, February 11, 2013

SPIDERS Passes the Test: Operational Demonstration Summary

SPIDERS IMT members discuss start up of 

 The Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) completed its Phase 1 operational demonstration at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam (JBPHH) in late January 2013.  The micro-grid system from the main SPIDERS Human Machine Interface (HMI) is overseen and operated by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii Utilities and Waste Water Treatment Plant Station staff.  This portion of the system is located at NAVFAC Control Station C (Pearl Harbor Bldg 41).  A team from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, part of the SPIDERS assessment team, scrutinized controller operations, system status, and continuity of operations throughout the demonstration. Their report will focus on system effectiveness, training and contribute to the Transition Manager’s JCTD deliverables. 

Initial observations indicated the majority of the activities outlined in the operational test plan were executed successfully. The demo’s sequence of activities detailed in the test plan included data collection and measurements.  The Phase 1 effort should serve as a blueprint for all other follow-on microgrid efforts.   Of course not everything was flawless. Outside the parameters of the demo, a communication system anomaly was recorded in the early hours of 23 Jan.  As designed, the SPIDERS intelligent control system reacted  to its fail-safe mode of operation (traditional emergency back-up generation each supplying it’s intended load).  The PNNL independent assessment will provide further detail regarding the results of the demo. 

According to sources, on Friday 25 January, at the conclusion of the VIP observation and tour, the technical management team, the industry team and NAVFAC Utility Services met to discuss contract status, systems support, and potential improvements during the duration of the measurement and verification aspect of this JCTD contract. The concluding remarks from NAVFAC personnel was their appreciation that “the system worked as advertised” and that SPIDERS offered JBPHH technical improvements in their ability to conduct operations.

Not everything was lollipops and cherries.  The Air Force in-kind contribution of a flow battery flopped.  It would seem that some sort of energy storage medium will be required to make intermittent energy production viable for uninterruptible power.  It was reported that the schedule and communications never synchronized with the SPIDERS efforts.  Cost effective, reliable energy storage remains the Holy Grail of the micro-grid challenge.  Air Force, next time, just write a check!

Well done to everyone involved.  The SPIDERS JCTD has been one of the most successful efforts in the DOD energy arena to date.   Perhaps when they are done with this, the whole team could be transferred to work on HiPower and we could finally get a bang for our buck (or 30 million bucks) there!  Take a look at the September 2008 post if you can’t remember what HiPower was.  Maybe someone over at Nightly News could look into that before it becomes a $1B Fleecing of  America.   Dan Nolan

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