A Meshed Network of Nodes for Military-Ready Microgrids

G. Oppedahl
Emera Technologies, New Mexico, United States

Keywords: microgrids, energy, resilience, solar, battery

Microgrids can provide secure, stable, and resilient backup power for military/civilian use. However, these have inherent challenges, including centralized control that can result in single points of failure, and the complexity and difficulty of scaling to meet large-scale installation needs. To address these challenges, Emera Technologies created the BlockEnergy platform, a microgrid comprised of networked nanogrids with PV generation and battery storage at every load and decentralized, asset-level controls. Each nanogrid is capable of independent operation, but functions optimally when aggregated energy is shared within the microgrid network. The BlockEnergy microgrid has no single point of failure and is physically secure within the installation fence. The optimal microgrid size is 1MW, and multiple BlockEnergy microgrids may be networked. At the Control level, the system has a natural gas generator for backup power and a tie to the bulk power grid for energy export or import as desirable for system optimization. The system is self-healing; if one nanogrid is removed, a maintenance warning is sent to the system operator while the rest of the microgrid continues to operate. A 250 kW BlockEnergy pilot project has been operating independently and continuously at Kirtland Air Force Base since last year.