Islanded or grid-connected
As the potential for using renewable energies grows, so does the challenge of storing the surplus energy produced by photovoltaic cells and wind turbines to be used as and when required. Another challenge is compensating the weather-induced fluctuations that the use of renewables inevitably involves. Microgrids meet both those challenges by connecting the sources of electrical power to batteries and a control system and integrating all elements by means of smart energy management that determines which type of energy can be optimally harnessed and when. This makes for a stable source of power that allows operators to loosen their dependency on the public grid or become fully autonomous. “This is a very interesting proposition for operators from all branches of industry, because they can either improve the capacity factor of their existing power installation or use the microgrid as a stable or autonomous source of power,” explained Fürderer. Such operators can be public utility companies already running CHP modules and photovoltaic installations, largescale farms with biogas plants that likewise use solar and wind power, or businesses that want to free themselves from the public grid.
Individual microgrid simulations at the mtu Validation Center
Irrespective of whether the customer wishes to improve capacity utilization of their existing installations or integrate them better, or is looking for a brand-new microgrid suited to their local conditions, the Validation Center is at their service: “In our Validation Center, we can configure microgrids of various sizes, capacities and layouts and demonstrate to the customer how they will function – also taking into account the wind and sun conditions that prevail at the customer's location,” said Fürderer. What takes place is not a computer simulation, but a realistic replication of an individually configured microgrid using high-tech components.
The Validation Center capabilities reflect the comprehensiveness of the mtu microgrid portfolio, which covers battery capacities from 50 kWh, enough for around 50 washing machine cycles, to 2 MWh, equivalent to the yearly power requirement of a single-person household. “Microgrids are almost freely scalable, and you can increase their capacity by using, for example, several battery containers, a bigger photovoltaic installation, or by adding on wind turbines and larger or extra generator sets,” added Fürderer.