In the US, global non-profit partnership the Industrial Internet Consortium has launched a testbed for microgrids applications in a bid to introduce the flexibility of real-time analytics, and propose the re-structuring of power grids to include renewable energy distributed sources.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) will develop the test-bed in conjunction with companies Real-Time Innovations, National Instruments and Cisco in conjunction with utilities - Texas-based CPS energy and Southern California Edison.
The involvement of North Carolina electric power company Duke Energy and the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) are also key to the project. Duke Energy and SGIP will ensure that the microgrid architecture is based on "modern, cross-industry industrial internet".
The microgrids test-bed will be developed in three phases.
The first microgrid developments will be tested in Southern California Edison's Controls Lab, while the final stage field deployment will take place at CPS Energy's 'Grid-of-the-future' microgrid test area in Texas.
Stan Schneider, CEO of Real-Time Innovations, and a steering committee member of IIC, added: "The smart grid is a critical infrastructure component of the industrial internet of things.
"The IIoT will span industries, sensor to cloud, power to factory, and road to hospital. This key first step will address a significant barrier to the efficient use of green energy."
Kip Compton, VP/GM of Internet of Things Systems and Software Group, at Cisco Systems, said: "Analytics and controls are essential for a successful energy transition, addressing limited scalability and renewables, siloed networks, rigid controls and slow human intervention."
Redesigning the electrical grid
IIC has also stressed the need for the legacy electrical grid to be "re-architected" to interconnect distributed and renewable energy resources so that power generated accurately matches demand, and reduces waste of clean energy generated.
The IIC explains that: "The [legacy] system must over-generate power to compensate for rapid variation in power generation or demands. As a result, much of the benefit of renewable energy sources in neighborhoods or businesses is lost. Efficiently integrating variable and distributed generation requires architectural innovation."
The communication and control testbed suggests re-designing the existing grid "to include a series of distributed microgrids which will control smaller areas of demand with distributed generation and storage capacity."
The IIC states that its test-bed microgrids operate independently from the central grid, but "will still interact and be coordinated with the existing infrastructure."