U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY OPENS MICROGRID RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITIES

“Department of Energy Assistant Secretary Moreno Cutting the Ribbon at the Grand Opening” 

 

Irvine, Calif., June 1, 2023 — The Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), KB Home, SunPower®, Southern California Edison® (SCE), and Schneider Electric™ (SE) on May 22nd to officially open the novel microgrid communities located in the Shadow Mountain master plan in Menifee, California.  

 

A microgrid is a self-supporting energy system that serves a specific geographic footprint, with one or more sources of energy that power the community along with the utility grid.  For this research and demonstration project, the all-electric homes are located in two adjacent communities and equipped with solar panels, home batteries, a smart water heater, a smart heating and air conditioning system, and controls that can isolate and energize the homes in the event of a grid outage.  Every home is certified to DOE-designated Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH) standards, which includes ENERGY STAR®, WaterSense®, and Indoor airPLUS. 

 

The two communities of 219 homes have separate microgrids that can be connected when shared energy resources are determined to benefit both communities. In addition to the home batteries, a community battery will be shared among the homes.  The overall goal of the project is to enhance residential home energy reliability, resiliency, and efficiency as well as leverage flexible loads based on an electric microgrid architecture of connected communities.  Over thirty homes have been occupied with a large portfolio of state-of-the-art energy-efficient appliances and energy efficiency measures to meet the ZERH standards. 

 

“This is at the cutting edge of the next generation of home developments,” said Scott Samuelsen, Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Environmental Engineering and the Co-Principal Investigator with SunPower.  “For homeowners, the digital age and home charging of electric vehicles demands the enhanced home energy security provided by microgrid technology.” 

 

APEP is collaborating with SCE, SE, and SunPower to develop, deploy, and evaluate a microgrid infrastructure and microgrid controller designed to interface with the homes, a community battery, and the utility grid to achieve the enhanced reliability, resiliency, and energy efficiency expected by the next generation of homeowners.  Throughout the project, APEP will simulate the connected microgrids in collaboration with SCE, acquire and archive the data emanating from the project, and conduct research to enhance the technologies deployed in support of future microgrid applications. 

 

APEP will also explore, test, and demonstrate the future of “vehicle-to-home,” wherein the energy stored in the electric vehicle is available to extend the energy readiness of the home in the event of a grid outage.   

 

Overall, APEP will assure that the microgrid controller meets the national standards (IEEE 2030.7) that evolved from prior research conducted by APEP for the DOE using the UCI Microgrid as a platform for both the development and demonstration.  The UCI Microgrid is a 20MW-class microgrid that serves a community of more than 50,000, a wide array of building types (residential, office, research, classroom), transportation options (automobiles, buses, shared-cars, bicycles), and an array of distributed energy resources.  Through prior and current research programs, APEP has teamed with the UCI Administration and Facilities Management (FM) to integrate key microgrid hardware, software, and simulation assets into the UCI Microgrid.  In partnership with UCI FM and SCE, APEP successfully and seamlessly islanded and reconnected the UCI Microgrid from the utility grid.  During the 75-minute islanding demonstration, the event was transparent to the campus community even though load demand on the local generation resources changed appreciably. 

 

For more information on UCI, visit www.apep.uci.edu  

 

About University of California, Irvine  

Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu

 

About The Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP)  

Established in 2000, APEP engages over 120 graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, research staff, and visiting scientists to address the broad utilization of energy resources and the emerging connection of electric power generation, infrastructure, transportation, water resources, and the environment.  With a broad expertise in smart grid and microgrid technology, APEP addresses the paradigm shift of the grid to renewable electric power generation, the electrification of buildings and vehicles, and the evolving merging of mobility with the grid.  APEP seeks to develop, promote, and deploy increasingly efficient and environmentally sustainable power production and energy conversion worldwide, with a focus on the creation and sharing of new knowledge through fundamental and applied research, education, and outreach. 

 

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