Renewable Energy, Distributed Generation and Microgrids

Across the U.S., renewable energy generation and storage technologies are rapidly growing as part of the everyday power generation mix. Large-scale solar and wind generating installations have proliferated in recent years as the demand for renewable energy sources continues to expand while the costs of these sources has declined.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), utility scale wind generation grew from 120,177,000 megawatt hours in 2011 to 337,510,000 megawatt hours in 2020. That’s an increase of 2.8 times in 10 years. Likewise, EIA reported that utility scale solar photovoltaic generation increased by 86 fold, growing from 1,012,000 megawatt hours in 2011 to 87,743,000 megawatt hours in 2020.

While those statistics reflect growth of grid-scale renewable generation, they don’t take into account the phenomenon of distributed generation (locally-scaled power generation and distribution).

Distributed Generation

Distributed generation refers to the concept of producing electric power with generation assets located in close proximity to the end user. Photovoltaic solar (PV) lends itself to distributed generation facilities, which may also include natural gas-fired generation equipment and a battery storage component.

Optimal candidates include industrial facilities, military installations, colleges and universities, and hospital complexes/healthcare campuses.

City Light & Power has years of experience designing, engineering and deploying distributed generation resources for a number of the military installations with whom we work.

CLP And Microgrids

One example of CLP’s work on microgrids is with the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell complex. This includes engineering for a microgrid.

The Fort Campbell distribution system consists of a 69kV sub-transmission loop and 12.47kV local distribution throughout the installation. With eight substations, a large distribution system serves various mission critical loads including a hospital, test range, barracks and an Army Special Operations campus comprised of more than 50 buildings, a dedicated airfield and several large hangars. The Fort Campbell campus is an ideal candidate for a microgrid, and Fort Campbell is currently in the process of building 7.5MW gas engine generators that will be utilized for peak shaving and microgrid (islanded operations) during prolonged loss of external utility supply.