Eaton wins stimulus grant to develop military base microgrid
By: SGN Staff
The U.S. military has been at the forefront of microgrid initiatives as the Department of Defense explores ways to protect the critical operations of its military bases. Eaton Corporation's announcement that it has received a $2.4 million Recovery Act stimulus grant to develop a microgrid for military applications underscores that commitment.
The military has been dealing with the burden of large energy demands and has been working on ways to cut costs and increase reliability. Eaton's microgrid also is expected to expand on the smart grid concept to include integration of renewables and fuel mix optimization as well as energy energy storage and system operations to reduce greenouse gas emissions and down time.
During the first year of the 18-month project, the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) will concentrate on research and development projects at Georgia Tech University, the University of Wisconsin and Eaton's Innovation Centers in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. Eaton and the research teams plan to demonstrate how the new microgrid can function independent of a civilian electric grid while managing the integration of solar, wind and natural gas backup power and storing power for future use. The CERL project also will apply to civilian and other government uses. It is part of the Army's Net-Zero Energy initiative.
Quick Take:The microgrid market hasn't quite reached the tipping point, even though numerous microgrid pilots are underway and several interesting startups are focused on the opportunity. It appears that the Department of Defense will be the key driver over the next few years. The DoD wants its bases to be self-sufficient for core power needs, and that requires a microgrid. We believe the military projects will provide the proof the skeptics need to see. If so, you can expect a round of commercial projects to appear several years from now, based on designs proved by the military. - Jesse Berst
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