First island micro grid goes online in U.K.


Jase Kuriakose,
CAT engineer
Machynlleth, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — September 14, 2009 – The first micro grid in the United Kingdom has been launched in Wales by the Center for Alternative Technology (CAT), with wind, hydro and solar energies working together with an intelligent control system to connect and disconnect to the national grid whenever they need to.

The renewable energies produced at CAT are fed into a battery bank and connected together through the electronic control system along with the load and the national grid. Under normal operation, the renewable generators provide power to all the loads, with excess power exported to the national grid. In the event of a power failure, the CAT electricity system can be isolated from the national grid and the renewable generators will continue to operate as an island grid system, with the intelligent control system regulating the power generation according to the demand.

The back up battery bank also ensures that if there is no renewable energy generation, there is sufficient power available for at least 3 hours use. After a period of time with no power generation and the energy stored in the batteries is reduced, the system disconnects from the mains to ensure power is available for emergency lighting, the servers and telephone system.

The system will be operational at CAT’s visitors’ center at Machynlleth, Wales, as a demonstration project for interested businesses and small communities. The system also will be used training purposes and for consultancy.

The CAT notes that the developed world’s centralized electricity system wastes around 65 percent of the energy generated through heat loss in power stations and transmission lines before the energy reaches homes. In addition the electricity sector in the European Union is responsible for releasing more than 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and over 2,600 tonnes of dangerous radioactive waste every year. The EU also has a limited security of supply of fossil fuel resources with only 0.6 percent of the oil, 2 percent of the gas, and 7.3 percent of the coal. Furthermore more than half of Europe’s power plants are at least 20 years old, and will need to be replaced over the next decade.

“There is a vital need and enormous opportunity to move towards a more sustainable decentralized system, which protects the climate and provides future generations with secure energy,” said CAT engineer for the project, Jase Kuriakose.

The micro grid system is one of a number of different projects that the CAT is developing towards a zero carbon future.