This project will create a scalable microgrid planning framework to address known software and planning problems that limit the widespread, cost-effective utilization of microgrids on military bases. This work leverages previously funded Department of Energy (DOE) technologies. Partnering with member utilities that hold utility privatization (UP) contracts, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is uniquely positioned to develop an actionable planning framework that can optimize a microgrid, based on the facility’s needs and additionally reduce soft costs. Military facilities with large critical loads require complex microgrids to cost-effectively meet continuity of operations and resilience requirements, which vary based on the installation and branch (ex: Army’s 14-day resilience requirement for their military installations). Existing electric grid planning tools lack integrated methods for concurrently modeling on-site generation along with low voltage (building), medium voltage (distribution), and high voltage (transmission) systems. This shortcoming in existing planning tools increases time, cost, complexity, and uncertainty in designing microgrids for multi-building sites, such as what military installations’ microgrids will require.
In 2010, NRECA created the Open Modeling Framework (OMF), a software that provides common data models, configuration management tools, run execution, and visualization capabilities for use with multiple models, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s GridLAB-D and the National Renewable Energy Lab’s System Advisor Model. Through additional DOE funding, NRECA has adapted the OMF to meet utilities' need for a tool that can combine and analyze data resulting from the integration of new renewable resources such as wind and solar, as well as other distributed energy resources. This technology is now available under an open source license [www.omf.coop]. The OMF makes advanced power system models usable for utilities, including GridLAB-D and MATPOWER. The OMF allows engineers to run distribution models, import data from commercial tools, visualize results and collaborate through a web interface. The project team will extend NRECA’s OMF capabilities to automate the microgrid modeling process at military installations and create a standardized microgrid planning framework that can be deployed at military installations across the country.
MICROGRID UP will leverage DOE-developed solutions to lower microgrid planning costs to the Department of Defense (DoD) by developing a repeatable microgrid planning framework that simplifies the process of planning for the integration of assets with legacy infrastructure. The project, MICROGRID UP, therefore, will lower the soft costs associated with microgrid implementation and allow for the option to network microgrids. The project considers the conditions found on military installations, and the various requirements imposed by business and financial constraints of developing a microgrid.