As the number of natural disasters increases, threats to critical infrastructure and vital utility systems are also on the rise. Today's smart cities are looking to microgrids to keep critical facilities up and running while also supporting the needs of the larger utility distribution network.
In an article for a special series in Public Utilities Fortnightly on smart communities, Peter Asmus, associate director at Navigant, highlights a few recent microgrid projects and explains how they have helped smart cities to increase resilience, optimize distributed energy resources (DER) portfolios, and keep critical data management systems online in emergency situations.
"[Microgrids] can become components in a broader overarching smart city framework, dividing up sections of any distribution system into resilient building blocks for a more sustainable energy future, while also bolstering overall resiliency of utility distribution systems," Asmus said.
According to the article, a microgrid's ability to island is what sets it apart from other solutions. The technology allows key smart city components, such as sensors, artificial intelligence engines, and machine learning data streams, to continue operating, enabling a web of distributed intelligence to help steer traffic, optimize lighting systems, and squeeze the most value out of distributed energy resources, whether they are owned and deployed by utilities or not.
"Smart city projects will increasingly lean on utilities, requiring these utilities to develop a forward-looking strategy to leverage both existing and new technologies," Asmus said.