Microgrids: a lesson for cities from the Marine Corps?

Thu, 2017-01-19 14:27 -- SCC Staff

The U.S. military has long been a pioneer in renewable energy and related technologies. The news release excerpt below outlines a major energy upgrade for a large Marine Corps recruit depot which includes a microgrid integrated with solar power and energy storage to be installed by Council Associate Partner Ameresco. While the needs of cities and military bases aren't quite the same, cities planning smart energy networks may want to consider a similar undertaking. As cities become increasingly connected and technologies become more complex, it's increasingly important for them to be able to rely on uninterrupted power for their critical infrastructure — whether it's a hospital, a traffic management network or other essential services. — Doug Peeples

Ameresco to build microgrid integrating onsite generation and storage at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina

FRAMINGHAM, MA and PARRIS ISLAND, SC – January 12, 2017 – Ameresco, Inc., (NYSE:AMRC), a leading energy efficiency and energy infrastructure company, today announced it has been issued a task order to build a site-wide microgrid integrating 10 megawatts (MW) of new onsite generation and a battery energy storage system at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island, South Carolina, by the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC).

Ameresco will engineer, construct and operate the energy generating assets through a $91.1 million self-funding Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) to provide energy infrastructure upgrades to the 8,095 acre military installation.  

“Ameresco is proud to support the mission of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island through energy assurance and new infrastructure,” said Nicole A. Bulgarino, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Federal Solutions, Ameresco. “This project will provide MCRD a reliable source of heat and power combined with advanced controls and energy storage technology to allow the site to operate in island-mode during a loss of utility connection ensuring operation of mission-critical systems. Overall, the project will revitalize Parris Island’s existing energy infrastructure.”

Under the cost-neutral ESPC, Ameresco will provide comprehensive energy and water efficiency upgrades to 121 buildings to improve system performance and to reduce operations and maintenance costs at Parris Island. The installation of new onsite energy systems will offset electricity purchases from the grid and will provide energy security and resiliency.

Ameresco will replace the existing end-of-life steam plant with a new fully automated natural gas-fueled Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant capable of producing 3.5 MW of electricity and the full steam load required for MCRD’s operations. The CHP plant will be connected to the MCRD’s electric grid and can be used to reduce utility purchases or to support the site in a utility isolated microgrid. The CHP plant will also eliminate the site’s use of fuel oil #6 and its reliance on a cost-intensive aged plant—addressing a longstanding infrastructure need for MCRD.

Through multiple energy conservation measures, Ameresco expects to reduce MCRD’s utility energy demand by 79 percent and its water consumption by 27 percent. More than 29,000 high-efficiency light emitting diode (LED) based fixtures and retrofits will be installed to replace existing lighting systems. Other measures include upgrades to the controls system, heating ventilation and air conditioning, chillers, cooling towers, lighting controls, water fixtures and steam traps. 

Ameresco will install a state-of-the-art microgrid including 10 MW of new onsite electrical generation to support the site’s critical energy load and mission-critical systems. The microgrid system will include the new CHP plant, 6.7 MW-DC of solar photovoltaic generation assets integrated with an 8.0 MWh battery energy storage system and a microgrid control system capable of optimized dispatch and fast load shedding.

The microgrid control system will monitor and coordinate the dispatch of the energy assets and emergency diesel generators as required in response to site electrical loads. The microgrid control system will also continuously monitor the health of the utility connection and, when a utility disturbance is sensed, safely disconnect the site while matching load to available onsite generation through fast load shedding. Overall, the microgrid control system is designed to optimize dispatch of the onsite generation and storage assets and island the site from the utility when the utility connection is lost.

Other energy monitoring and control system upgrades installed under the project will improve the energy efficiency of Parris Island and are designed to lower its utility costs, optimize operations and maintenance of building systems, and preserve the operating lifespan of the site’s mechanical and electrical equipment.

Construction on the project will begin during the spring of 2017 and is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2019. All buildings and facilities will remain operational during the construction period.