How to efficiently manage microgrids: Load Shifting for Grid-tied System

Kiesse Sita-Kengue

Microgrids – a market forecasted to be worth $47.4 billion by 2025 – are undoubtedly the future of distributed energy generation.

The aim of this article is not to explain why microgrids are reaching maturity level but how a microgrid can be managed between different energy generation plants such as solar PV system, gensets, or BESS (battery energy storage system) through a microgrid controller.

What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is an energy distribution network that relies on local means of producing electricity. It is designed to operate independently or in synchronization with the national network within a defined area. It is necessary to ensure electricity production and distribution to enable areas or buildings to secure their economic activity and benefit from reliable energy. It is also an opportunity to profit from clean distributed and renewable energy. A microgrid can be typically composed of renewable energy sources, BESS, utility grid (when available), fuel generators or gensets, and the load. If you want to know more about the microgrid topic, here is a great lecture:  “What is a solar hybrid microgrid?

Through a series of articles, we will explore different use cases for behind the meter projects ie microgrids that power Commercial and Industrial buildings

Load shifting for microgrids

When used in a project with a BESS, load-shifting is a method applied during the off-peak times that will lower the utility expenses. Following the peak hours pricing, the battery is charged when electricity is the cheapest and discharged when it is the most expensive. Unlike many energy cost-saving strategies, load shifting tackles the “when” rather than the “how much.”

Load shifting does not reduce the quantity of energy used, but the rescheduling process allows a consequent reduction in expenses. The majority of commercial and industrial sites never operate constantly. In this case, energy demand only rises during operational hours. Charging a BESS during off-peak hours and discharging it during the operational hours means peak demand charges can be significantly reduced. To be performed load shifting is best practiced when combined with a microgrid controller and an energy monitoring platform such as ePowerControl MC and ePowerMonitor.

Microgrid controller operational mode

For load shifting applications, the operational mode is rather straightforward. The BESS can be put in two modes:

  • The BESS auto consumption mode: In this mode, the BESS receives orders from the microgrid controller to either charge with the excess of the solar PV production or discharge its power to support the other units to meet the load active power demand.
  • The BESS fixed charging mode: For this second mode, BESS is controlled to charge at a fixed power until a certain state of charge is reached.

The controller will orchestrate the use of the BESS to help you reduce your expenses. We recommend using ePowerControl MC and ePowerMonitor to manage your microgrids efficiently. 

So, if you want to maximize your hybrid microgrid system’s profitability, request a call with one of our microgrid experts. 

What is the business case for this application of microgrid?

Using BESS in a microgrid only for applying a load shifting philosophy is not economically profitable in the majority of the countries. However, this load shifting application can reduce significantly when it is combined with other applications such as:

  • Solar Maximum penetration: in some C&I applications powered with Solar, solar production can overproduce compared to the load. If BESS is installed to store the solar primarily, BESS can be also used for a load shifting application.
  • Back-up application: in some C&I applications, BESS are installed to assure a back-up in case of grid failure. In this case, BESS can take into account peak tariffs and off-peak tariffs to minimize the cost of purchase of electricity.

In the next few weeks, we will release a new article about on-grid Solar BESS Genset backup applications. 

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