The Department of Defense (DoD) has increasingly focused on installation energy resilience, which is requiring the Services to determine current energy needs and challenges. Energy availability and reliability are necessary for executing mission essential operations, so improving the ability to avoid, prepare for, minimize and adapt to energy disruptions is a top priority for DoD installations.

Energy disruptions are a more common threat, as the number and intensity of climate and cyber related events have multiplied over time. Microgrids combined with energy storage solutions can enhance energy resilience on military installations by facilitating integration of more renewable energy and reducing single-point-of-failure vulnerabilities associated with traditional back-up power emergency diesel generators (EDGs). Though microgrids can provide reliable source of energy during these events, several challenges remain.

As part of its FY21 annual solicitation, ESTCP recently funded several projects aimed at advancing energy resilience objectives. Although the DoD has pursued many renewable energy projects to achieve cost savings over the years, the projects described below offer solutions to address the various gaps and challenges that inhibit the successful execution of energy resilience goals.

The Securing Resilient On-Base Microgrids project led by James Taylor with Onclave Networks, Inc. will demonstrate advances in microgrid solutions by securing microgrid network communications among distributed energy resource (DER) components at military installations. The solution will integrate Onclave’s Secure Internet of Things (IoT)® Zero-Trust platform into the existing Facility Related Control System (FRCS) /Operational Technology (OT) / IoT network to secure communication links for critical mission operational energy systems.

John Saussele at DayWatt LLC’s project, Ultra-Resilient & Energy Efficient DC Microgrid (Project Overview), will demonstrate a Direct Current (DC) microgrid to secure buildings during power outages. The solution provides a low-cost and energy efficient source of power by employing a DC connection between the solar photovoltaic (PV) array and other DC sources and high efficiency air conditioning, lighting, and IT/communications systems, eliminating multiple energy-draining conversions to and from AC and allowing key building systems to seamlessly continue operation during emergency outage situations.

The project, Energy Disturbance Resiliency through Automated Fault Isolation and Restoration (Project Overview) led by Lee Melville with SEL Engineering Services, Inc. will improve the identification of faults on distribution networks through automatic fault identification and restoration process. Normally, faults are reported by phone calls from the affected area, and an electric trouble crew will then physically inspect and locate the fault. This solution will reduce time and cost through continuous monitoring using intelligent Distribution Automation (DA) and fault location devices notifying staff immediately of faults and allowing automated restoration through remote communication.

Typically, microgrids/DERs and building automation systems are separately sized, installed, contracted and managed. Nathan Johnson with Arizona State University’s project, Providing Energy Resilience with an ROI (Project Overview), will demonstrate the Adaptive Control of Energy Systems, which communicates with microgrid assets and building automation system to optimize load management to improve resilience and cost benefits. The solution will constantly update system operations based on price signals, environmental conditions, and mission goals using machine learning forecasting and optimization dispatch algorithms.

The project, Micro-Combined Heat and Power for Enhanced Energy Resiliency, led by Alex Lovallo of GTI, will demonstrate use of Micro- Combined Heat and Power (mCHP) to improve energy resilience, energy efficiency, islanding functionality, energy and life cycle cost savings, and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The project will demonstrate a Lochinvar XRGi mCHP, which provides up to 24 kW of power and 163,000 Btu/h of water heating

Building level energy storage is not always economically or technologically viable in DoD applications. Julian Lamb from Paragon Robotics’s project, Integrating Building Level Storage Across Multiple Buildings Using Innovative Performance Contracts (Project Overview) will accelerate the deployment of building-level storage at DoD installations by validating a technology that maximizes utility savings from battery energy storage systems (BESSs) and combines building-level BESS with local renewable generation. This approach will help establish a path forward for DoD customers and ESCOs to cost-effectively integrate building-level storage into performance contracts.

Sean Walters with Yotta Energy’s project, Demonstration of Cost-Effective, Modular, Scalable, and Repeatable Building Level Energy Storage System, will advance energy storage solutions for DoD installations by demonstrating a cost-effective, modular and scalable PV-coupled smart energy storage system with advanced thermal management that’s designed to scale with rooftop and ground-mount solar PV projects.

The project, Energy Resilience Using Intellirupters for an EDG/PV/BESS Microgrid (Project Overview) led by Audrey Oxendine, Chief of the Energy and Utilities Branch at the Directorate of Public Works of Fort Bragg, will demonstrate the use of the Pulse-closing Intellirupter at a remote military training area prone to power outages. Intellirupter technology serves multiple purposes, but it can be used as a smart switch to create a microgrid powered by a diesel generator, floating solar panels and a battery storage system, during a power outage. When it is not functioning as a microgrid, the intellirupters provide additional system protection by creating segmentation capabilities for isolated faults on the distribution system.

For more information on each of the projects above, check out their project overviews on the SERDP and ESTCP website.