Multi-Buyer Solar Microgrid Helps CA Airport, Coast Guard Operations

Peter Lehman (Image: Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center)

California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport and U.S. Coast Guard Air Station’s 100% renewable energy, front-of-the-meter, multi-customer microgrid is absolutely operational in California.

The new microgrid was developed via a partnership between the County of Humboldt, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Schatz Energy Research Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, Schweitzer Engineering Labs, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, Tesla Inc., The Energy Authority, and TRC.

The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid (RCAM) contains a 2.2 MW solar photovoltaic array that’s DC-coupled to a 2 MW (9 MWh) battery energy storage system, comprised of three Tesla Megapacks. It additionally features a microgrid management system, with safety and isolation units that interfaces instantly with PG&E’s distribution management heart.

The microgrid serves a number of features and is managed in collaboration between venture companions. The Schatz Energy Research Center is the prime contractor and know-how integrator, main the design, testing and deployment of the clear energy microgrid.

“The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid has ushered in a new and exciting era for the electric grid in California,” says Peter Lehman, founding director of the Schatz Center and venture lead. “With its successful deployment and the development of new microgrid agreements and tariffs, RCAM has become a role model and beacon to communities across the state who are striving to green their energy supply and bolster their resilience in the face of climate change.”

Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), the Community Choice Aggregator for the Humboldt Bay space, owns the 2 solar arrays and the battery energy storage system.

During normal blue-sky operations, RCAM generates clear energy for the North Coast and participates within the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) wholesale energy markets, together with the day-ahead, real-time and ancillary providers markets.

By storing solar energy throughout the day and releasing it onto the grid as wanted within the night and through peak demand, RCAM allows higher utilization of solar, helps grid reliability and creates an financial mannequin for future microgrids.

“RCEA’s goal is to provide our customers with 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2025, and 100 percent local carbon-free electricity by 2030. This project is a major milestone for our clean energy and resilience efforts,” states Matthew Marshall, government director of RCEA, which works intently with colleges, hearth departments, tribes and different native companies to help neighborhood resilience throughout the North Coast.

PG&E owns, operates and maintains the microgrid circuit and controls the microgrid throughout “islanded” operation. In the occasion of a broader grid outage, the clean-energy microgrid offers indefinite power for the 19 linked prospects by disconnecting or “islanding” from the broader grid when wanted and turning into an unbiased, PG&E-operated grid section. This ensures that airport flight service and rescue operations proceed with out interruption.

“The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid represents the culmination of many years of research, innovation and collaboration by the world’s leading microgrid experts,” feedback Jason Glickman, PG&E’s government vice chairman of engineering, planning and technique. “Thanks to this team’s smart work, microgrids now play a key role in PG&E’s ongoing efforts to harden our electrical system and enhance local grid resilience throughout Northern and Central California. We know how much our customers and communities need reliable energy, and this system not only increases local reliability, it also serves as the foundation for a replicable and scalable model for widely deploying multi-customer microgrids across PG&E’s service area. This gives communities a new tool in securing their resilience and clean energy goals.”

The regional California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport (ACV) is in McKinleyville, Calif., and serves the higher North Coast neighborhood with over 50,000 flights per yr, together with business airline, non-public and emergency medical flights. Adjacent to the airport, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay offers search and rescue for 250 miles of rural shoreline, from the Mendocino-Sonoma County line to the California-Oregon border.

Roads into Humboldt County are continuously closed by fires and mudslides, making air providers a essential consider regional emergency response.

“The California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport (ACV) is a lifeline to our community every day by keeping Humboldt County connected to the world alongside our partners at United Airlines, Avelo Airlines, American Airlines, REACH/Cal-Ore Life Flights, U.S. Coast Guard-Sector Humboldt Bay and many others,” says Cody Roggatz, Humboldt County’s director of aviation. “RCAM ensures that we can continue to keep that lifeline open through energy resilience, no matter what happens to the power grid.”

Research and improvement for the microgrid was supported via California’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) – a statewide, customer-funded program that allows PG&E, different California investor-owned utilities and the California Energy Commission to execute rising know-how demonstration and deployment initiatives that tackle essential grid wants. EPIC performs a task in serving to drive the innovation wanted to satisfy California’s coverage and clear energy targets whereas additionally making certain the protected, dependable and inexpensive operation of the grid.

The collaboration between RCAM venture companions has knowledgeable technical and coverage improvements together with the event of the Community Microgrid Enablement Tariff and PG&E’s Community Microgrid Enablement Program (CMEP).

To date, PG&E has engaged with greater than three dozen communities and prospects to discover potential monetary and infrastructure help choices for growing microgrids and resilience options via the CMEP.

Additionally, PG&E, together with Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric, are growing the Microgrid Incentive Program (MIP), leveraging a $200 million statewide fund devoted to the event of unpolluted energy microgrids supporting the essential wants of weak populations and deprived communities. The firms anticipate launching this program in late 2022.

Together, the MIP and PG&E’s CMEP present complete monetary help for each the distributed energy sources and different prices essential to develop and energize a microgrid, in addition to the distribution upgrades essential to allow the protected islanding of the microgrid.

The Schatz Center is partnering with a number of tribes in Northern California to help their clear energy, resilience and local weather response efforts. Cal Poly Humboldt additionally lately started design of a renewable energy microgrid to help campus resilience via clear era. This microgrid might be a part of the college’s sustainability framework, and can allow college students in engineering, environmental sciences and different applications to realize hands-on expertise with revolutionary climate-friendly applied sciences.

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