Training Introduces ACEP Utility Interns to Microgrid Systems

Training Introduces ACEP Utility Interns to Microgrid Systems

The Microgrid Boot Camp introduced concepts and provided hands-on experience to participants during a five-day training at the ACEP facilities on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus last week. Presenters and trainers from Alaska and Arizona State University taught technical, regulatory and economic basics to ACEP utility interns and energy professionals seeking an understanding of microgrid concepts and designs.

On the first day of the camp, students learned about Alaska-specific issues related to regulations and policies, as well as technical and logistical challenges due to the size and remoteness of the state. The second day provided the students with a detailed overview of microgrids. This included the motivations for using them, types and components of microgrids, and how to estimate electric and thermal loads when designing a grid. This was followed by an introduction to the HOMER grid-modeling software. This software allows a utility manager to model the integration of renewables into the grid in their community.

With the gained knowledge, the students performed hands-on activities using a solar and battery-powered microgrid-teaching kit (the “Illumination Station”) designed by ACEP. With the kit, presenters conveyed crucial concepts for the integration of renewables into grids. The concepts included technical challenges like running a grid “diesel-off” and the associated lack of a grid-forming generator. They also discussed environmental issues, including the impact of clouds on the output of solar panels, and economic issues, such as the high initial capital cost of renewables versus the higher operating and maintenance costs of traditional grids.

As part of the boot camp, the ACEP Power Systems Integration Laboratory performed a live demonstration of wind and battery integration into a diesel microgrid. The demonstration used a village load profile to highlight challenges and solutions in the design and operation of a grid. The boot camp participants also toured the Aurora Energy combined heat and power plant in Fairbanks and visited the bifacial solar test site on the Fairbanks campus.

The Microgrid Boot Camp is a collaboration between Arizona State University’s Laboratory for Energy and Power Solutions program and ACEP. It is funded by the Office of Naval Research.

For more information, please contact Heike Merkel.


Jeremy Vandermeer stands by the ‘Illumination Station’ microgrid-teaching kit during the Microgrid Boot Camp. Photo by Amanda Byrd.