Our software is composed of multiple modules that identify ideal microgrid candidates and give detailed reports on the expected performance of these microgrids, summarized in figure 1 below.
The microgrid planning process, in the order we perform it, goes as follows:
Data Import – Import comprehensive data sets from distribution operators to give a full picture of historical reliability and costs across tens of thousands of components.
Network Segmentation – Segment the distribution network automatically, weighted by load criticality, to find sets of maximum impact and mutually beneficial microgrid options.
Distribution Design – Add distribution upgrades to the system model to determine cost impacts and run automated interconnection to confirm nothing exceeds hosting capacity.
Generation Planning – Determine resilient and cost-optimal generation mixes of solar, wind, natural gas, energy storage and diesel for all candidate microgrids that satisfy their requirements for outage survival.
System Control – Execute detailed control simulations to determine load, generation, switching and protection changes needed to safely island/de-island and black start.
Resilience and Financial Reports – Calculate detailed costs for each microgrid and a resilience summary explaining the survival characteristics during outages.
To illustrate what the results look like, we have created an artificial test system called “Lehigh Air Force Base” which has realistic mission, load, and distribution characteristics based on public data. Below are the final summary outputs.
The software has identified 4 potential microgrids (mg1, mg2, …, mg4 each circles in orange) to cover the critical loads and compared each of those microgrids to a single, large, centralized microgrid. The outage survival of each microgrid meets the minimum requirements of the critical loads they serve (set to 48 hours) while also minimizing cost through a combination of fossil, solar and energy storage assets. In some cases, the load factor of the critical meters is such that the average outage survival is far longer than the minimal requirement even though the generation mix is optimized to achieve the minimum survival requirement—a nice side effect. The central microgrid is predicted to have higher net present value than building all the smaller microgrids; however, the capital expenditure to build this large microgrid is naturally about four times that of each microgrid individually, so the distribution operator could pursue a staged deployment if total resources don't meet the capital requirements of the large microgrid.
For a more detailed overview of the components of the software and how they operate, please see the MicrogridUP Planning Playbook.
We have developed this software in partnership with three cooperatives that serve four major military installations as shown in the map below. As of 2023, the software has been used to run planning exercises at each installation, and 4 microgrids identified by the software have had funding identified and are moving into deployment. The project team is interested in running similar planning exercise with additional utilities and military installations starting in 2024.
- MicrogridUP Software (link coming soon).
- The MicrogridUP Planning Playbook (link coming soon).
-  “Department of Defense Annual Energy Management and Resilience Report (AEMRR),” Fiscal Year
-  “Phase I Microgrid Cost Study: Data Collection and Analysis of Microgrid Costs in the United States,” Giraldez et al., NREL, 2018
-  “Power Begins at Home: Assured Energy for US Military Bases,” Noblis commissioned by the PEW Charitable Trust, 2017