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Echelon Corporation announced two micro grid deployments in India and South Africa that integrate distributed generation to compensate for disruptions in utility-supplied power. The first-of-its-kind in the two countries, the micro grid deployments involve dynamically managing demand and energy supply mix for a residential community and a retail mall to deliver reliable service cost-effectively.
The model micro grid deployments are at Palm Meadows in Hyderabad, India, and Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. Palm Meadows is an 86-acre integrated gated community with 335 homes and residential services. Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg is a retail building with more than 240 stores.
Such micro grids are likely to be a best practice in emerging countries grappling with intermittent power supply, and are also applicable in environmentally conscious countries that are aggressively incorporating renewable and intermittent energy sources into the distribution network.
“Smart micro grids are an ideal way to integrate local generation at the community level and allow for customer participation in the electricity enterprise,” said Michael Anderson, senior vice president of Worldwide Markets for Echelon. “Micro grids sit at the edge of the smart grid and provide real-time analysis, decision making and control.
The Palm Meadows and Clearwater Mall deployments are great examples of how Echelon’s commitment to leading the worldwide transformation of the electricity grid into an energy control network can foster market innovation. The concepts demonstrated in India and South Africa can be replicated worldwide to improve power reliability and to integrate energy efficiency solutions as well as renewable generation.”
The Palm Meadows community ties into the grid at a dedicated substation and sources energy in bulk from the utility. The community also runs diesel generators and will incorporate solar generation in the future. Residences within the community are equipped with Echelon smart meters that connect into data concentrators at distribution transformers and feed near real-time usage information to Echelon’s Networked Energy Systems (NES) system software.
Echelon partner Grene Robotics’ Skynet management application automatically turns on local generation if utility-delivered power is inadequate. The Skynet software interfaces with the NES system software and creates a bill for the customer that reflects the customers’ actual use of lower cost grid power and more expensive locally generated power.
Customers have the option of reducing usage at times when the more expensive energy is being supplied. The Palm Meadows micro grid is providing reliable service even during frequent utility grid outages and enabling the customer to make intelligent trade-offs between comfort and cost.
“When you flip that light switch, turn your television on, or boot up your computer, you expect power,” said Kiran Penmatcha, CEO of Grene Robotics. “Like a national power grid, the Palm Meadows micro grid manages generation, distribution, and the regulation of the flow of electricity to its households.
We are pleased to have helped implement a proven, open and multi-application energy control infrastructure that enables Palm Meadows to become distributors of energy within their community. Today, the community is evaluating the integration of solar generated electricity for the future. On March 29, the community may look to add other applications, such as outdoor lighting control on the same infrastructure.”
The frequency and length of blackouts in South Africa can have devastating effects on its commercial sector. For example, the local South African public utility had to institute a system of rolling blackouts over a period of four months to balance electricity demand, in which supply was interrupted at least once or twice a day on an average of four hours at a time.
The Clearwater Mall tenants, which consist of nine anchor stores, and more than two hundred other local and international fashion and quick serve food outlets, restaurants, banks, electronic goods and other specialty stores, require reliable electricity so they can continue to run their business.
The mall’s new retail micro grid solution based on Echelon partner PMT’s Meteringonline energy management application, employs Echelon smart meters, data concentrators, and NES system software to submeter individual tenant usage, so they can pay only for their actual energy usage rather than the industry norm of paying for energy on a square footage basis. Furthermore, tenants can opt-in to power supplied by local back-up generation when blackouts occur.
PMT’s Meteringonline application interfaces to Echelon’s system software and reconciles usage with energy source, allocating tariffs based on actual use. The on-demand energy services allow the store owners to manage their energy usage and associated costs and maximize revenues.
“South Africa experiences major power shortages with rolling blackouts on a regular basis, therefore implementing a rock solid energy control networking platform for Clearwater Mall and its tenants was of utmost importance,” said Graeme Mellis, director of PMT. “The Echelon solution with our Meteringonline system software created a perfect micro grid solution for Clearwater Mall to deliver multiple applications to its tenants, such as submetering, selective back up generation and consolidated billing.”
According to Pike Research, interest in implementing micro grids is spreading among educational, commercial, government, healthcare, industrial, and research campuses. A new report from Pike Research forecasts that total installed generation capacity for campus micro grids will increase by 164% between 2011 and 2017, rising from 620 megawatts (MW) to 1.6 gigawatts (GW).
By the end of the forecast period in 2017, the clean tech market intelligence firm anticipates that the campus micro grid market will reach $777 million in annual revenue.
“Micro grids are an aggregation and optimization platform that can squeeze the most value out of existing and new distributed energy assets, whether they are solar photovoltaic generation technology or smart meters enabling demand response.
Micro grids are the building blocks of a smart grid whose modularity can shrink energy consumption by 10 to 15% through more intelligent networking,” said Peter Asmus, senior analyst at Pike Research.