Smart microgrids to help data centers, farm communities use locally produced power

Smart microgrids to help data centers, farm communities use locally produced power
A microgrid power management system can integrate solar and wind power, generators and battery storage to provide consistent, reliable power to consumers in a remote area.

Strategic use of locally produced, renewable energy through smart microgrids can reduce power costs and help prevent outages, according to assistant professors Wei Sun and Reinaldo Tonkoski of the electrical engineering and computer science department.

They are developing the smart technologies that will make it possible for communities and businesses to use locally produced wind and solar energy yet maintain a consistent, reliable power system. The automated system needed to integrate renewables will also facilitate development of an intelligent power restoration system called a self-healing smart grid that can help prevent .

Tonkoski and Sun began developing a microgrid that will allow data centers to utilize locally available that can be operated as power plants through support from Microsoft Corp.

They are the first SDSU researchers to receive a Software Engineering Innovation Foundation grant.

An additional $87,000 from the South Dakota Board of Regents supports development of these power management tools, which could also benefit farms and communities. Two doctoral students and 12 master's students are working on power management and renewable energy systems integration in the SDSU microgrid laboratory.

Lowering power costs by integrating renewables

"Data centers are high consumers of power, but that supply has to be really reliable," Tonkoski pointed out. Though most data centers rely on the main , they require locally available standby power in case of grid failure.

Smart microgrids to help data centers, farm communities use locally produced power
Reinaldo Tonkoski and Wei Sun

Furthermore, integration of alternative energy sources will help reduce the demands that a data center puts on the power grid. Use of batteries and standby generators will help reduce the intermittency of solar and so that it can support the grid.

"Renewables have uncertainty," Sun said, pointing out weather conditions affect the generation of solar and wind energy. In addition, power production varies based on time, cloud conditions and the wind speed, so integrating them into the distribution system means solving problems such as a maintaining power system balance, added Tonkoski. Specially designed controllers with new battery technologies can deal with these issues to get consistent power quality.

Remote power systems use diesel or gas generators, he pointed out. Adding solar or can save fuel and reduce the load on the generator.

"Integrating batteries into the system may boost the efficiency of the generator," Tonkoski added.

The researchers will develop an algorithm that will determine when and how each power source can be efficiently used in a sustainable energy system. That includes when operating the generator or using batteries can increase the system's efficiency.

With being built worldwide, Sun noted, "some regions do not have a robust power grid." Therefore, construction of a new data center and the infrastructure to handle a power load in the range of 100 megawatts can take as long as three years. Using multiple energy sources through a microgrid system may reduce the timeline to establish new facilities.

Redirecting power to prevent outages

The automated system needed to integrate renewables will facilitate development of an intelligent power restoration system called a self-healing smart grid that can help prevent outages, according to Sun. He received a three-year, $210,000 National Science Foundation Grant to support his research.

Power plant operators follow guidelines based on offline scenarios, simulations and experimental data to respond to a blackout, Sun explained. "There are basically no computational tools to guide them through these emergencies."

Consequently, the first step will be to develop tools to give operators what engineers call "real-time data," meaning what is happening at the moment rather than even 30 seconds ago. Three graduate students are working on the project.

Sun collaborates with Clemson University Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department Distinguished Professor Kumar Venayagamoorthy, who is developing advanced computational methods for the smart grid through a separate NSF grant.

Once the algorithm, software code and hardware simulation as well as education and training materials have been completed, Sun hopes to demonstrate the system's effectiveness to major utility companies.


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Jun 04, 2015
Little by little we are reducing the granularity of grids until we will all be in self-supporting sections of our own microgrid.

The days of Brute-Force Power are numbered. Give up the idea of massive grids and Magic Boxes, and embrace the intelligent way of living within our means.

Jun 04, 2015
Since the main source of backup power is a diesel generator I cannot see how this is a very energy efficient solution. If there were solar and wind at the same facility things could be a little bit better at certain times.

Let's face it solar and wind will never reach their full potential ( pun intended ) until some sort of cost effective energy storage is devised.

Jun 04, 2015
Poco a poco, 166. They already unloaded that generator for most of the time. Soon, it will be replaced with storage or other inputs.

Jun 04, 2015
"They already unloaded that generator for most of the time."

You don't know that for a fact. The system is not even in operation yet.

Jun 04, 2015
Yeah, them-there grapes have to be sour.

Jun 04, 2015
"Yeah, them-there grapes have to be sour."

Sorry Gkam if I prefer my solutions to be based on reality and not hope.

Jun 04, 2015
Little by little we are reducing the granularity of grids until we will all be in self-supporting sections of our own microgrid.


So much for the previous argument that its always sunny or windy somewhere, so all you need to do is simply connect everyone to everyone via the grid.

The smaller your microgrid, the larger the variability in power production. The smallest unit - individual homes or villages for example - would need massive battery banks compared to having a more interconnected grid.

Jun 04, 2015
Eikka is just hoping. There will be details to be worked out, just like there were when we built the first grids.

When we got automobiles, we had to invent traffic signals. Are we driving today?

Jun 05, 2015
When we got automobiles, we had to invent traffic signals. Are we driving today?


With renewable power, we've only gotten past the point where a man with a red flag must fire a rifle into the air at every intersection.

There are two extremes to the renewables issue: local and global. Studies done on systems such as DESERTEC show that it's possible to have demand meet with supply with no energy storage if you can stretch your grid over a continental scale (>5000 mi). The only issue is geopolitics and cost.

At the same time, individual solar panels and wind turbines are well characterized and the required amount of batteries can be easily calculated depending on prevailing weather conditions and power needs. The only issue is that the number of batteries is huge. A wee's worth of batteries per household, times the number of households in a country, which runs into supply problems, which again mean geopolitics and cost.


Jun 05, 2015
Let's take the average Californian home for example and have them heat all their water, cook all their food, A/C, light, television etc. on electricity from solar panels. They'd use about 18,000 kWh a year or 49 kWh a day.

The peak-to-average production of solar panels in California is 7.14:1 which follows from the capacity factor of 0.14 which can be simplified as a single pulse of power at midday lasting for 3.36 hours.

During those 3.36 hours, one must capture energy for the rest of the day, which means approximately 42 kWh of batteries. You might complain that you don't need to because you can use all the power at noon, but this is the average day we're talking about - you might have had the power yesterday, but today it is cloudy and you don't. That's what the batteries are for.

And now we're only at the absolute minimum. You need more batteries still to get through two cloudy days, and more still because solar insolation changes as much as 50% throughout the year...

Jun 05, 2015
Here's how the available solar radiation varies in Arizona for example. Much the same effect is found in California:

https://assets.ne.../803.gif

Mind, that's clear days only. The actual production curve for a fixed solar panel is steeper because it won't catch sunlight coming in at an angle so well. You'd have to keep adjusting it monthly to keep the production up to the curve.

What it means is, you got a huge several-month-long power gap in the winter months. While the A/C loads are less in the winter, the difference isn't nearly as great as the difference in available power, so you need several months worth of alternative energy to make up the difference.

Wind power comes some way to make up for it, because it's more active in the winter, but you're still looking at weeks worth of backup needed, and that's still a tall order to pull off.

Jun 05, 2015
Good presentation Eikka. Why can't the supporters of renewables come up with clear numbers like yours? No, they prefer to paint an unobtainable picture. BTW adding wind power into the mix would lessen battery requirements by quite a bit but you would need a grid then.

Jun 05, 2015
Yeah, you would think the experts who build these things, and keep on building more and more would know that.

Oh, they DO?? And it still makes sense over the alternatives of fossil and nuclear power?

Oh.

Jun 05, 2015
Here is something which will put another nail in the coffin of Dirty Power:

http://www.utilit.../400296/

Jun 05, 2015
"Oh, they DO?? And it still makes sense over the alternatives of fossil and nuclear power?"

When you say "Over" are you trying to say these are not needed any more or are you trying to say that solar and wind are able to just contribute to the overall energy pool?

Is 24/7 electric power a necessity or just a luxury that we must sacrifice in order to "Save the Planet"?

Jun 05, 2015
Oh,stop it. You always try to twist words and phrases into ridiculous meanings.

You know what it means - your favorite polluting sources will be back-ups - secondary, used only when absolutely needed.

Jun 05, 2015
"You know what it means - your favorite polluting sources will be back-ups - secondary, used only when absolutely needed."

So you are claiming that renewables without and economical storage solution can supply say 75% of our electric power TODAY, no problem if we only were willing to fund them.

Jun 05, 2015
Once again, you try to put words in the mouths of others, and fail.

What I said was "You know what it means - your favorite polluting sources will be back-ups - secondary, used only when absolutely needed."

Back-ups. They will probably be used for load-following until they are just abandoned, since they are no good for peaking power.

Jun 05, 2015
"What I said was "You know what it means - your favorite polluting sources will be back-ups - secondary, used only when absolutely needed."

Well please explain this to me. Will this happen in 1, 10, 25, 50 or 100 years?

Jun 05, 2015
It depends of how soon we can get the Deniers out of the way, doesn't it?

Jun 05, 2015
"It depends of how soon we can get the Deniers out of the way, doesn't it?"

So economics plays no part eh?

Jun 05, 2015
Once again, you try to twist the point and fail.

It is succeeding because of economics and the "externalities" of Dirty Power production.

If you count healthcare costs and have to pay for the effects of coal and oil use, they are gone.

Jun 05, 2015
So you are trying to tell me that if a law was passed that mandated 90% renewables and 10% fossil backup in 10 years that the cost of living would go down. Is that true?

Jun 05, 2015
No, YOU are saying that.

Why do you continue to invent irrelevant accusations?

Jun 05, 2015
166, so you are saying if we get rid of all alternative energy, and use only nukes and coal we will have a clean environment and power "too cheap to meter"?

Jun 06, 2015
Yeah, you would think the experts who build these things, and keep on building more and more would know that.


The experts know of the issues, or they choose to ignore them, but they keep building them anyways because there's money to be made. When the government is paying, or forcing someone else to pay, it doesn't matter what you're building or why.

There's another method which I didn't yet address, which is over-provisioning. If you design your renewable power around the minimum available power, you can largely do away with the storage requirement. You simply toss what you don't need, which increases the cost on the part that you do use.

The practical solution, if any, is between all the outlier cases. It's cheaper to interconnect some, to over-provision some, and to build batteries for some amount.

Jun 06, 2015
166, so you are saying if we get rid of all alternative energy, and use only nukes and coal we will have a clean environment and power "too cheap to meter"?


Why coal? What happened to hydroelectric power? Why wouldn't there exist CAES or biogas, or waste-to-energy? Your definition of "alternative" is a sliding category that seems to be defined by whatever suits your rhetoric at any given moment.

Making false dilemmas don't convince anyone, and no energy source is too cheap to meter - that's just a ridiculous demand.

Nuclear, hydro and an amount of other dispatchable sources would provide for a clean environment with energy prices far more affordable than the "alternatives" that are currently driving electricity retail prices up 3x wherever they're being used.


Jun 06, 2015
Here is something which will put another nail in the coffin of Dirty Power:

http://www.utilit.../400296/


Will it?

Tesla is selling capacity at around $300/kWh which means 15 cents additional cost on power at 2000 cycles per cell, and 6 cents at 5000 cycles per cell, plus other facility cost.

The overall grid infrastructure costs another 6-7 cents, so if the batteries cost 6-15 cents, you're paying more than the current retail prices in just in the system cost alone. Add the cost of the power source and utility profit, and you're paying 2-3x for renewable power, while natural gas still costs 3-4 cents a kWh.

Unless you make gas stoves and heaters/fridges etc. illegal, people will simply switch all their appliances to gas to avoid paying.

Then you can boast about how high a percentage of renewables you have on the grid when the electricity demand drops.

Jun 06, 2015
Stop counting the pennies and see the trends and the intelligence behind it. My god, you invent things thinking it is going to stop the advanced technology? You must have a longer-term perspective on life.

Arguing about whether what we are doing works as it is working is not a good idea. Do you REALLY think you are telling us something the professionals do not know, . . . or are you unaware they are not insurmountable? Why would you assume you are more intelligent than the engineers who are actually doing it?

Jun 06, 2015
Stop counting the pennies and see the trends and the intelligence behind it.


Yeah, if only we forgot how much everything costs things would work out just fine. We could also bury our heads in the sand, and the whole climate change malarkey would stop.

If A costs more than B, then the majority of people are going to choose B unless you -force- them otherwise. That's the problem.

You're not going to actually get people to use renewable energy as long as it's very expensive, and forcing people just means you're putting a whole lot people out of jobs and into poverty and frankly, death. It's not going to be the rich Californians though.

You're so concerned about "them filthy fuels" that you neglect to take into consideration the human cost of what you advocate. But hey, can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs, right?

But what's the point of saving the world by killing?

Jun 06, 2015
Do you REALLY think you are telling us something the professionals do not know, . . .


No. I'm thinking I'm telling you something the professionals do know, and YOU don't.

The thing that gets my goat is that YOU are constantly posing as if you stood in the cohorts of the movers and shakers, when in reality you haven't done any of it, and a teenage kid with google can best you in knowledge 99% of the time.

There's a word for people like you, and it's "careerist". It describes a person whose only interest in life is to gain prestige, however false, at the expense of professionalism and honesty. As long as you can put another impressive line in your CV, as long as you can pose as a member of the winning team, it doesn't matter how much you cheat and lie to get there.


Jun 06, 2015
Are you otto?

Silly stuff like the personal attacks give you less and less credibility. I used to think you were pretty good at looking stuff up, and parroting back here, but now see you did not understand most of it, . . even the most basic stuff. Yet you continuously carp and bring up negatives as if you just thought of them. We have been doing it while you were sucking your thumb.

I discussed my work history, and could prove it. Do you have one yet? No??

Oh, . . .

I apparently hurt your feelings by voting you down when you were screaming about my poor character. How terrible of me. I won't do it again.

Jun 09, 2015
Silly stuff like the personal attacks give you less and less credibility.


I don't have use for credibility. I'm either right, or I'm wrong.

You on the other hand do, with this flaunting of your "work history", which you use to prop up your non-existing authority on matters which you don't understand or know nothing of, or clearly have an agenda about.

You're putting a bad name on actual professionals and experts by pretending to be one, to the point that other people may lose trust. That's a public disservice, which is the reason I'm so vocal about these matters. Someone needs to expose the bullshitters - to tell the bad teacher from the good teacher.

It's personal only to the extent that you choose to make it.

Jun 09, 2015
Eikka,you may be smart some day, but right now, you are just a display device for what others have done and seen and experienced. When you get to the experience part, your attitudes and ideas will change.

Had you any experience you would not denighrate that of others. Notice how those who attack me have none at all in those fields?

Jun 09, 2015
Silly stuff like the personal attacks give you less and less credibility. I used to think you were pretty good at looking stuff up, and parroting back here, but now see you did not understand most of it, . . even the most basic stuff
Eikka seems to know basic stuff like using BTUs and calories in the same sentence is redundant. A reasonably educated person would never make that mistake, not to mention an engineer. But YOU DID didnt you?

He also schooled you on kWh which you obviously didnt understand either.
Yet you continuously carp and bring up negatives as if you just thought of them. We have been doing it while you were sucking your thumb
Just so you know; this is a personal attack. Youre always denigrating people who disagree with you by calling them goobers and such, even though they obviously know far more than you, and you are just pretending to know.

Who do you think you are kidding george?

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