Philadelphia creates university microgrid with US$1m

university microgrid
One of the aims of the Philadelphia university microgrid project was to take part in demand response programmes

In a case study of a microgrid installation on a university campus in Philadelphia, engineering company Burns Engineering describes the challenges of the US$1 million project.

Temple University, which occupies a 105-acre urban campus with plans for development through 2020, wanted to improve its capability to identify power outages, monitor electricity usage, study peak demand, and to participate in demand response with the regional transmission organisation, reports Consulting-Specifying Engineer.

The university also needed new electrical infrastructure throughout the campus, without interruptions to the school, students, faculty, and related operations.

The project presented the challenge and opportunity to engineer a new model for the modern campus microgrid, reports the trade magazine.

University microgrid

Burns worked with Temple University and collaborated with major stakeholders like the local utility, PECO, to plan and design a campus electrical-infrastructure modernisation that would result in providing the university with its a microgrid with the capacity, resilience, and operational flexibility required to support Temple’s campus.

The modern microgrid includes more than 14 miles of underground cables, two large utility-service substations, and a 16-MW central generating facility.

Energy management

The project included a new power-monitoring system that displays the near real-time power use across the system.

This enables Temple to identify outages in the system and quickly work to get power back to those areas on campus.

It also is used as an energy-management tool showing and recording the electricity usage and peak demand for each of the incoming utility lines and temple feeders.

With this data, Temple can make near-real-time decisions to run the generation facility to minimize their external peak demand, participate in demand response with PJM creating additional revenue for the university, or reduce loads on the system.

In the report, Burns claims it phased the cutovers for all five utility lines, two generator plant ties, and more than 20 temple feeders without impacting the daily life of Temple’s student body and surrounding community.

The new microgrid included more than 3,500 ft of 12-way concrete-encased ductbank, more than 14 miles of 500-kcmil 15-kV cable, more than 200 new 15-kV splices and modular connections, more than 125 new 15-kV terminations, and 42 new 15-kV vacuum circuit breakers.