The Navy Yard grid modernization
More than US$ billion has been invested in the naval base since its closure in 1991
The Navy Yard grid modernization
More than US$1 billion has been invested in the naval base since its closure in 1991

In the US, Pennsylvania State University has signed an agreement with Alstom to create a centre of excellence for microgrids at The Navy Yard, a grid modernization project in Philadelphia.

The partnership follows the pair receiving government funding for microgrid research.

The US Department of Energy awarded Alstom a grant of US$1.2 million grant in 2014, and US$129 million to Penn State, a research university, in 2010.

The microgrid center will form part of the The Navy Yard, a 1,200-acre former naval shipyard, which has  been redeveloped into a business campus with more than 145 companies in the office, industrial, and R&D sectors occupying the 7 million square feet of space.

The idea is to make portions of the campus self-sufficient by combining distributed renewable resources and energy storage assets.

It will then be able to operate independently from the main grid in case of an outage due to extreme weather or other extraordinary events.

Neil Sharkey, vice president for research at Penn State, said the agreement places the university and its partners at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to develop technologies that will improve energy efficiency.

“We are working to spur real innovation and job growth, as well as boost the efficiency of current technologies.

“Energy efficiency is one of the easiest ways to improve our competitiveness and reduce costs.”

Alstom's involvement in the project expands the company's presence in the greater Philadelphia region, which is home to Alstom Grid’s North American headquarters and more than 100 employees.

Landis+Gyr is also involved in The Navy Yard project, supplying smart meters, as well as its Gridstream communications network, MDM software and cloud-based services.

Smart grid bilateral ties

In other smart grid news, the US-Brazil Science and Technology Joint Commission met this week to discuss how the two countries can advance co-operation on smart grids, renewable energy, greenhouse gas monitoring, a new synchrotron light accelerator in Brazil and biomedicine.

In a statement, the joint commission said it was looking forward to discussing how Brazilian and US scientists can collaborate with industry to bring electricity to those in rural areas who are not connected to the grid.

America’s GE last year opened a US$500 million global R&D center in Rio de Janeiro that will focus initially on the energy sector.