Decentralized Energy

02 Aug 2022

ABB Releases Blueprint for Carbon Negative Microgrids

02 Aug 2022  by   

Courtesy: ABB

ABB has announced delivery of electrical distribution and control systems for a 300kW future microgrid that engineering and management consultancy Tetra Tech is deploying for Oldham Council in Greater Manchester.

The site is, according to ABB, one of dozens of similar locations in the UK where this approach could be successfully deployed.

According to the multinational technology company, ABB, the system provides similar electrical control as an industrial-scale system at less cost. It also demonstrates that the control capability in smart circuit breakers is an affordable alternative to SCADA systems for small-scale microgrids.

The first phase of the project is expected to be complete by Spring 2023 and will integrate solar photovoltaic panels, a 500kVA grid connection, electric vehicle (EV) charging points and electricity demand from an office building, as well as heating from an air source heat pump.

The electrical control scheme is based on smart ABB Ability circuit breakers. According to ABB, these have the capability and flexibility to control power generation, distribution and consumption, as well as providing advanced features such as power management, metering and communication.

Capacity has been set aside for the project’s phase 2 (subject to funding), which will enable the depot to produce more energy than it uses by integrating a battery energy storage system, as well as combined heat and power (CHP) units fed by hydrogen gas from biomass gasification units.

“We’ve worked closely with ABB to develop an innovative electrical system that anticipates potential future developments that are proposed for part 8 of the IET Wiring Regulations,” stated Lindsay Moody, director of engineering, Tetra Tech.

“The result is a sophisticated control system that provides a similar level of control to an industrial control system but at a fraction of the cost. It has huge potential to help operators of small-scale commercial and industrial sites make the most of renewable energy and reduce their own carbon emissions.”

While the project was initially conceived as an island microgrid, the project scope changed due to reallocation of funding during the pandemic, which shifted the battery system and CHP units to a later phase. As a result, ABB’s engineering team worked with Tetra Tech to deliver a scheme that would meet the requirements of Phase 1 alone, as well as Phase 2 in the future.

David Lowen, ABB’s lead business manager in the UK for electrification stated: “The beauty of our circuit breakers is that they come with additional features built in, such as accurate metering, as well as digital communication and algorithms for smart decision making.”

Lowen cited the benefits of the breakers, including saved space and reduced installation time alongside flexibility to control low-voltage distribution and capability over power management, load shedding and generator control when clients are in need.

The announcement comes as Oldham Council aims to push its goal for the future eco-park (based at its Environmental Services’ depot) to become carbon negative by covering its own electrical and heat requirements, as well as supplying excess power to the grid.


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