Microgrid Research in Japan: An Update on NTT Facilities' Sendai Demonstration

July 13, 2007 - 12:00pm
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A microgrid is a semiautonomous grouping of generating sources and enduse sinks that are placed and operated for the benefit of its members, which may be one utility ”customer,” a grouping of several contiguous sites, or dispersed sites that nonetheless operate in a coordinated fashion. The supply sources may include reciprocating engine generator sets, microturbines, or fuel cells, with heat recovery, photovoltaic and other small-scale renewable sources, storage devices, and/or controllable enduse loads. All controlled sources and sinks are interconnected in a manner that enables devices to perform control functions unnecessary for traditional distributed generation. For example, the energy balance may be maintained such that inflow from the macrogrid is constant or predetermined. While capable of operating independently of the legacy macrogrid, the microgrid usually functions interconnected, purchasing energy and ancillary services from the macrogrid as economic, and potentially selling back at other times. Three key potential features of microgrids are: 1. its design around total system energy requirements, 2. its provision of heterogeneous levels of power quality and reliability tailored to enduses, and 3. its presentation to the macrogrid as a single controlled entity. Research on microgrids is progressing in Europe and North America, but Japan has placed by far the most emphasis on this topic. In this seminar, some background on microgrids will be presented together with an overview of the research program of NEDO, an R&D branch of Japan's economy ministry. This introduction will be followed by a detailed description of the NEDO funded project being executed by NTT Facilities on a campus of Tohoku Fukushi University, a neighboring Sendai City school, and a water treatment plant.

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