Energy Transition – Where Grid Constraints hold back advances to clean power – hybrid renewable microgrids are a solution
The global push towards renewable energy sources is continuing apace as nations strive to reduce carbon emissions and reverse man made climate change.
However, despite the surge in renewable energy generation, grid constraints due to traditional grid operation are hindering the development and integration of clean power sources.
According to reports from the European Commission and IEA (International Energy Agency) between 1,500GW and 3000GW of renewable energy projects were delayed due to grid connection queues in 2023.
Where the grid becomes a bottleneck for bringing renewables into the power mix, microgrids with the ability to switch between RERs and on-site generation are a viable solution.
The context is that among all the changes being wrought by global energy transition, two of the biggest are localisation of power generation and sustainability.
The Grid Conundrum
Traditional power grid limitations in accommodating the rapid influx of renewable energy is a product of their design for long range distribution of centralized power generation – along with decades of under investment.
This means there is often limited flexibility for efficient use of distributed, decentralized, intermittent renewable sources – especially where such sources generate power in remote areas far from the densely populated regions or sites requiring energy. Transmitting renewable energy over long distances from remote areas to urban or industrial centres also incurs significant transmission losses.
Microgrids are a disruptive solution that are revolutionizing the energy landscape. Localized grids that can operate autonomously or that can couple and decouple to and from the main grid provide independent power while enhancing reliability and resilience by alleviating stress on the central Transmission Systems Operator infrastructure.
There are many types of Microgrid. But a rapidly emerging category is comprised of distributed energy resources (DERs) including renewable generation and engine based power, energy storage and conditioning and stabilisation components in a self-sufficient energy ecosystem.
The components of such solutions have been developed by Piller in collaboration with sister companies Bergen Engines and Marelli Motori.
Piller is building upon its technology advances in Uninterruptable Power Supply by bringing its expertise and market experience of large scale industrial, campus and data centre power protection deployments across the globe to grid independent power generation.
Piller’s Integrated Power Conditioning & Switching technology (IPCS) serves as a power stabilization and voltage regulation unit linked to the power generation or renewable energy source.
Consisting of four Piller 2.5MW UB-V Series UPS modules connected electrically to the power module through a sole 10MW choke the conditioned power is subsequently distributed as needed, reaching up to 10MW per IPCS module.
Piller’s microgrid power concept harnesses the Power of 10 model, built around scalable 10MW hydrogen ready medium speed gensets from Bergen and integrated alternators from Marelli Motori designed as units that can be linked in parallel to scale out in 10MW modules from 30MW to 300MW.
This standardized system, constructed from modular components is adaptable for use alongside variable renewable energy resources (VRERs) either independently or in tandem with existing grids.
Piller’s UB-V series advanced features enable bi-directional power flow making it easier to provide energy back to the grid or transfer power from alternative energy sources inside a microgrid.
Piller works closely with Norwegian-based Bergen Engines, formerly known as Rolls-Royce Bergen Engines, and companies Marelli Motori of Italy to offer these versatile and modular Microgrid power solutions.
By deploying microgrids in areas facing grid constraints, renewable energy generation backed by on-site power can independently serve local needs. Such microgrids enable the development of renewables and help overcome the constraints of ageing grid infrastructure.
Microgrid projects by large industrial users are increasingly moving to onsite power generation. Field proven advances in power protection and conditioning are making power independence opportunities a reality for large users. This trend marks a paradigm shift where industrial sectors can transition from being mere consumers to active producers of clean energy. As energy intensive users seek the security, reliability and sustainability of independent power we expect more and more microgrids will be built on the ability to switch between different energy sources – predominately a mix of renewables and hydrogren-fueled engines.
Global investment in energy grids must exceed above USD 600 billion per year to accomplish global climate and energy goals by 2030 according to a report by IEA. Upgrading the grid infrastructure and developing advanced technologies for energy storage and transmission means large capital investment.
Simultaneously, fostering the deployment of microgrids is a necessary strategic move. By decentralizing energy production, microgrids alleviate pressure on the main grid, promoting faster integration of renewables. They also fortify resilience against outages and disruptions, ensuring uninterrupted power supply in localized areas.
Piller works closely with supra national bodies, national governments and regulatory bodies to continue to accelerate policies that encourage investment in clean energy infrastructure, incentivize microgrid development and grid modernization, and promote research and development in renewable and clean energy technologies. We believe hybrid renewable microgrids will have a major role in creating a clean energy future for all.
Piller was founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1909 by engineer Anton Piller. Employing around 1000 people worldwide, Piller is headquartered in Osterode, near Hanover, Germany, with subsidiaries across Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Piller is committed to creating a sustainable future in mission-critical power protection, and energy storage.
The Piller group is a wholly owned subsidiary of the multi-disciplined global UK engineering and industrial group, Langley Holdings plc and is part of Langley Holdings’ Power Solutions division.