Date of Thesis

7-17-2015

Thesis Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Peter Jansson

Abstract

A microgrid is a small cluster of electric power generators and consumers that can be operated either independently from or while connected to a larger power grid. Microgrids, when combined with renewable energy, may represent the future of the power grid. These microgrids pose a unique controls challenge given that they often include renewable generation that can change their output quickly and in order to remain stable these systems need to be able to adapt quickly. This thesis included the specification, design, construction, and testing of a smart residential microgrid including the integration of an existing onsite solar photovoltaic array, a natural gas backup generator, an electric vehicle, a smart metering infrastructure, and numerous electrical loads inside the house. One major benefit of a microgrid is its resiliency during electrical outages. Storms have been increasingly violent and utilities are struggling to keep their distribution networks online during and after these storms. A microgrid's ability to isolate itself from the power grid allows it to have higher electricity reliability than a home without one. Another major benefit of microgrids is their ability to leverage a real time pricing market to decrease electric bills and boost the value of renewable generation. This can be done through virtual storage such as shifting the time when loads operate, thermal energy storage, or through traditional storage mediums such as batteries and pumped-hydro. This virtual storage introduces a potential for a paradigm shift where the load will follow the generation as opposed to the current paradigm of the generation following the load. Such a paradigm shift would lead to a more renewable-friendly power grid. Microgrids can be used to ensure reliability, reduce losses, and increase the effectiveness of renewable energy in a future that will be dependent on renewables. A network of microgrids, all connected together and cooperating based on available energy, available storage, and demand for energy can convert the existing structure of the centralized power grid into a distributed, more efficient, and more resilient power grid of the future.

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