Blue Pillar Enables Next-Gen Microgrids with Energy IoT; Part 2

Posted by Brad Witter, Co-Founder and CTO on Sep 18, 2017 10:39:07 AM


Picking up from Part I, as we evaluated the requirements from the Energy Service Provider, we realized that their microgrid needed to solve a series of complex problems:

First, our Energy IoT microgrid solution had to be able to connect all energy assets, such as emergency backup power, natural gas turbines, chillers, boilers and energy storage — regardless of make, model or vintage.

Second, it also had to be expansive enough to cover a diverse set of next generation assets that would be installed in a future-state, such as wind, solar, and vehicle-to-grid.

Third, the microgrid solution had to be highly scalable and highly secure so it could meet the growing needs of the organization, while providing the heightened security necessary to prevent a cyber-attack.

And lastly, the IoT solution needed to be able to deliver the data, alarms and switching capabilities necessary to ensure that systems were fully functioning during both regular usage and during a power outage.

Through Aurora, we were able to build a comprehensive Energy IoT network of all the legacy and next-gen assets to centralize data which became the brains behind the microgrid.

As such, and based on the variable conditions impacting the microgrid at any given time, Aurora assists in telling the energy assets what to do. Aurora’s extensive connectivity enablement protocol allows for the microgrid’s ability to import and export energy based on different scenarios. For example, the microgrid can export its solar energy to the market when there are no assets using the solar.

Working with a microgrid controller, Aurora enables the micro grid to work in A.) Island mode for the testing and going off of utility power, and B.) Grid connected mode where it balances both generation and load across battery storage, natural gas generators, cogen units, backup diesel generators, and solar systems, balancing all of those energy systems to solve for the net import that the customer wants to take from the utility. That net import is something that can be tweaked in cycles depending on any number of variables.

The beauty of Aurora in microgrid enablement is the element of mass asset connectivity, which supports greater microgrid orchestration. While an individual asset, such as CHP, may have its own internal controls that can be managed individually to do what it’s supposed to do from a single asset perspective, that asset has no idea at what power set point it should be running or what mode it should be in at any particular time in relation to the other energy assets. Either an individual or a microgrid controller has to tell the asset what to do based on the macro conditions within the facility, the weather, or just the grid import level. Within the entire microgrid footprint, there needs to be control coordination of all of those assets. Aurora’s OpenAPI infrastructure opens the door to orchestration and control with any microgrid controller the customer chooses to use — all within a cyber-secure framework from asset to cloud.  And best of all, new assets can be added to the microgrid at any time as the facility continues to expand its use of new co-gen assets.

Additionally, on the Energy Service Provider side, they have the ability to push real-time pricing into Aurora to provide a price signal that enables their customers to make better business decisions, such as when it would be more cost-effective to self-generate or import more from the utility, based on a variety of conditions.

The net result is an exceptionally nimble, cyber-secure microgrid that combines legacy and next-gen assets; one that is able to be expertly managed for both on-grid and off-grid power, enabling advanced power generation and usage to the customer’s entire campus footprint.

Learn more about Aurora's capabilities in our latest eBook, or watch a 2-minute video.


Topics: Microgrids, Energy IoT, DERs, Distributed Energy Resources