Microgrids: New Technology, Old Challenges
By John J. Kumm, P.E., POWER Engineers
As you plan your microgrid project, be sure to consider technical challenges such as:
- Voltage and frequency stability. Correct microgrid design requires resources and the microgrid control system to correctly respond to changes in loads or sources.
- Fault clearing/coordination. Available fault currents and preferred or required breaker tripping sequences can be very different in island and grid-connected operating modes. Protective device coordination must account for the variety of microgrid topologies and source availabilities.
- Microgrid arc flash hazards. Microgrid installations produce the same arc flash hazards that other power generation and delivery installations do. Plan to analyze and label these as part of any new microgrid project.
- Cyber security and physical security. Plan to protect valuable equipment and intellectual property.
- Air quality permits.Traditional backup power generation air quality may have restrictive limits on the number of operating hours per year allowed.
These microgrid technical performance challenges are most cost-effectively addressed at the project start.