This project demonstrates a “bolt on” device for Adaptive Control of Energy Systems (ACES) that integrates with and controls existing microgrid assets and building automation systems. Often scoped and contracted separately, such microgrid and building automation projects miss out on the opportunity to deliver stacked value to the installation through offering a coordinated approach to controlling generation, storage, and loads. The resulting control of the net load enhances financial return of legacy systems by reducing operating expenses during grid-tied operation and improves microgrid resilience by enhancing survivability and extending mission autonomy during islanded operation. Remote connectivity provides demand response value to the utility that is shared with the installation as an incentive. By focusing on the net load, ACES can dispatch the battery to reduce net load rather than following the conventional approach to decrease building electrical demand and potentially affect operations.
Primary system components include the ACES supervisory controller that communicates to microgrid energy assets via ELM FieldSight™ and also communicates to the building automation system via Climatec/Alerton Compass™. Net load manipulation, asset dispatch signals, demand response signals, forecasting, model predictive control, reinforcement learning to improve optimization routines, and handling of microgrid transition events occurs within ACES. This work leverages a recently installed microgrid by Veregy with 331 kW solar photovoltaics (PV), a 250 kW solar PV inverter, 250 kW/275 kWh in battery storage, and a 350 kW back-up generator that serves the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) headquarters building for all 28 installation locations in Arizona. Load monitoring will include eGauge equipment as a commercial off the shelf load monitor to obtain real-time and historical trend data on the building’s main lines and five key sub-circuits. Standardized communication protocols and register maps will be utilized to simplify integration using BACnet MSTP and MODbus. Remote communications leveraging Distributed Network Protocol 3 match typical utility preferences and are adopted here to show integration with local utility Salt River Project for price signals and load shedding.
Benefits to Arizona DEMA will be immediate with the demonstrated work offering flexibility in technical, financial, regulatory, and ownership models that is broadly applicable to other DEMA sites and Department of Defense (DoD) installations. Specific benefits include:
(a) Increased resilience – Improve probability to maintain power to critical loads in event of a grid outage by real-time optimization of asset dispatch that maintains reserve capacity.
(b) Reduced Opex and payback – Demonstrate how advanced controls and load management can better utilize existing investments in solar, storage, and generators to decrease operating costs by 5-15% and reduce payback periods by up to 25% of existing and new Distributed Energy Resource.
(c) Shared value unlocking public-private investment – Demand response and load management provided to the utility will create new value streams for external investment and DoD return.
(d) Integration of legacy and new equipment – Enable utilization of prior investments by creating asset-specific drivers and levering in-development microgrid communication and control protocols to provide standardization to accept future equipment expansion.
(e) Flexibility through scalable controls – Lay the groundwork to create a scalable microgrid of more solar, storage, and generators that can be reconfigured to meet changing mission needs.
(f) Enhanced mission-critical decisions – Provide base Commanders and Public Works with real-time data to adjust load prioritization and microgrid asset utilization to meet mission goals.