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Utility Grade Microgrid Controller Development

Clean, reliable energy for remote communities and isolated electrical grids

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) | Canada | 2013-2016

90 million+ litres of diesel
power Canada’s remote communities annually 
C$0.8/kWh is the cost of electricity
in parts of Canada's North 
50% less fuel consumption
possible with renewable power integration 

Challenges

  • Electricity is prohibitively expensive in Canada's remote communities because so many are not connected to main electrical grids. They must rely on diesel power, which comes with considerable risks to the environment, like spillage and carbon emissions due to the burning of this fossil fuel. 
  • A commercially viable utility-grade control system could help solve this problem by enabling high-penetration renewable power (wind or solar photovoltaic) to be integrated into remote, isolated electrical grids. 
  • This new technology can help manage diesel, renewable, and energy storage assets by enabling the most economical operation of the microgrid to minimize fossil fuel consumption. 
  • It will help improve the quality and reliability of the power supply and reduce power outages by compensating for the variability in the renewable resource. 
     

Solutions

  • Advanced academic research is now being merged into a robust engineering solution using renewable power. This can adapt to the specific needs of remote or isolated communities to provide the most economical energy supply. 
  • A state-of-the-art microgrid control system offers real-time optimization to economically dispatch power system assets based on renewable and load forecasts. It can provide subcycle responses to power system disturbances to enhance power-system supply reliability, and determine the optimal size and management of energy storage systems. 
  • The implementation of pilot projects is underway in select locations.

Highlights

  • Hatch led the project in collaboration with the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Hydro One Networks Inc. and the remote off-grid community of Kasabonika Lake First Nations (KLFN) located in Northern Ontario. 
  • The project team performed a year-long field measurement campaign at KLFN, and high-speed measurement and analyses of several photovoltaic farm and wind turbine systems. 
  • We relied on expertise that has been developed over many years on isolated power systems, remote mines in particular, to ensure the power system was robust and stable. The team conducted dynamic hardware-in-loop simulations of controlled microgrids with renewable integration and energy storage to model remote sites operated by Hydro One. 
  • The microgrid controller allows for the high penetration of renewable power into off-grid communities, including periods of diesel-off. This reduces fuel use by more than 50%, and the cost of electricity is commensurately reduced as well. 
  • Learn more about the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative

Project Numbers

50% fuel use reduction

Services & Technologies

Energy Optimization

Renewable Power

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