Today in Cleantech


The U.S. military is leading the charge in the development of an interesting subset of smart grid technology — the so-called microgrid. This morning, on-site power generation and management company PowerSecure announced the commissioning of its “Smart Charging Micro-Grid” for the U.S. Army — a platform meant to control generators, solar panels, plug-in vehicles and all that power-sucking equipment that Army units use in remote field encampments. A movable microgrid is about as “micro” as these systems get — most are built to control standing infrastructure, such as the U.S. Marine Corps’ Twentynine Palms base in California, which is being outfitted to run independently of the power grid by General Electric. Eaton is also working on a grant-funded military microgrid research project. Last month, the Department of Defense said it would work with the Energy Department’s ARPA-E program to figure out how to generate and store power at more than 500 military installations around the world. Those bases need to keep running during blackouts, which gives them an excuse to spend pretty freely on microgrid projects. While the world microgrid industry was worth about $4 billion last year, according to Pike Research, more integration is needed to make their blend of home-made power and islanding capabilities pencil out against grid power. Hospital distributed power and demand response technology company Blue Pillar is working on ways that U.S. Air Force base microgrids could feed their power back to the grid to help pay for their costs, for example.

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