Schneider Electric, the global specialist in energy management and automation, today unveiled an advanced microgrid at its Boston One Campus, the company’s North American headquarters in Andover, Massachusetts.
The microgrid was built by Schneider Electric and REC Solar, a unit of Duke Energy Renewables and national provider of commercial solar and energy solutions. The microgrid was funded through the Microgrid as a Service (MaaS) business model, which adds resiliency and sustainability with no upfront costs. Duke Energy is the project’s investor/owner.
Demand for energy is growing under the increased pressure of urbanization, digitization and industrialization. At the same time, energy users are placing a premium on resiliency from power disruptions while demanding more renewable energy. America’s aging infrastructure is challenged to meet the country’s demands.
Advanced distributed energy resource management and microgrids allow users to take control of their energy future. As power generation models change, smaller scale solar and energy storage installations are turning consumers into prosumers, producing energy closer to where it is used. The integration of an advanced microgrid at BOC helps Schneider Electric achieve new levels of demand side efficiency while also offering power resiliency in the event of a loss of power from the local utility.
“With the growth in the availability of affordable renewable energy and other distributed energy resources, energy consumers are more empowered than ever to use microgrids to generate and manage their consumption through active involvement in the market,” said Mark Feasel, Vice President, Utility Segment, Smart Grid & Microgrid, Schneider Electric. “Schneider Electric used this model at BOC to build an advanced microgrid that reduces costs, incorporates more sustainable energy and takes control of its energy future. It will also be a living laboratory at our North American R&D hub, driving global innovation in energy storage and distributed energy resource management solutions.”
By funding the project through Schneider Electric’s innovative MaaS business model, the company was able to complete construction without any upfront capital expenditure costs. The microgrid will be used to research and develop new microgrid technologies, solutions and applications in a real-world environment.
“Massachusetts is a national leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency in part because of the innovation of our clean energy industry,” said Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson. “Emerging technologies like microgrids and energy storage hold the potential to revolutionize our electric grid and provide benefits for all of the Commonwealth’s ratepayers.”
The advanced microgrid includes 1,379 solar modules, as well as photovoltaic inverters that convert 448 kW of direct current from solar to alternating current that powers the system. Additionally, the advanced microgrid uses a natural gas generator as an anchor resource, allowing the entire solar array to operate during grid outages—maintaining critical operations and offering employees a safe, shelter in place option. The system is expected to generate more than 520,000 kWh of electricity per year. This equates to saving the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions from more than 2,400 passenger vehicles in a single year.
The company also introduced Schneider Electric Energy Control Center, which connects the facility’s distributed energy resources (DER) to the BOC microgrid and provides advanced control. The BOC microgrid also features the company’s newly released EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor, which leverages connected hardware, software and cloud-based analytics to help the campus procure, manage and consume energy more efficiently. The combination of advanced controls and demand side software allows the microgrid to leverage weather forecast data and other operational site data to optimize BOC’s energy performance across onsite solar, energy storage, electric vehicle charging, building HVAC and natural gas generation assets.
“As we continue to build a clean, affordable and resilient energy future for the Commonwealth, innovative companies like Schneider Electric are key to our shared success,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to supporting the emerging technologies being produced by Massachusetts’ world-class businesses, talented workforce and universities.”
The advanced microgrid is supported by the Schneider Electric Services Team, managing and maintaining the controls, software and associated switchgear for the life of the system.
BOC serves as the company’s North American headquarters and is one of five global research and development centers worldwide. Made up of more than 240,000 square feet across two buildings, the campus is home to about 750 employees across all of Schneider Electric’s business units. Opened in 2014, BOC serves to advance the company’s mission to drive innovation, collaboration and efficiency across the company.