A smart grid is more of an adjustable concept than a well-defined system, so a smart grid could take many forms. Engineers with Spain’s CENER, that country’s renewable energy laboratory, is experimenting with what a smart grid might do in a 300 m2 building on the CENER facility near Pamplona. A dedicated staff there is working with power from a 20 kW wind turbine and about 25 kW peak from photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. Inside, about 100 kWh of lead acid and a 200 kWh redox flow battery store power, along with 0.5 kWh in several Maxwell supercapacitors. Control hardware and algorithms make best use of the power so that a diesel generator powers up as little as possible.
The microgrid covers part of the electrical consumption of the Wind Turbine Test Lab where its located and lighting for the facility’s industrial area. The goal is to manage the generated power at each moment to assure sufficient supply and that the power consumed comes from renewable sources. “This way, it promotes the energy independency of the installation,” says Mónica Aquado, CENER’s Director of the Renewable Energy Grid Integration Department. “This microgrid could also demonstrate the applicability of a new grid concept for industrial applications and could be a test bench to new equipment, generation systems, energy storage, control strategies, and protection schemes.”
During a tour by editors in October, diesel fuel in Spain was selling for about €1.40/liter, about $7.30/gallon. More importantly, the wind turbine was spinning, the lab was well lit on a cloudy day, and the diesel generator was off.
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