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Net-Zero Carbon Microgrids

Posted to Idaho National Laboratory in the Grid Professionals Group
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Emily  Nichols's picture
Digital Marketing & Engagement Specialist Idaho National Laboratory

Digital Marketing & Engagement Specialist for Idaho National Laboratory.

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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2022-06 - DER and Management Systems, click here for more

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The microgrid concept has been effective in creating aggregations of distributed energy resources—generation, storage and loads—for resiliency, in the form of energy security. The success of microgrids in bringing energy security to a wide range of customers—from individual residences to commercial and industrial installations to military bases—has been exemplified during power disruptions and extended outages due to extreme weather events, cybersecurity attacks, and equipment failures. Now microgrids have an opportunity to meet the challenges of climate change and contribute to a carbon-free power delivery system. The transition to net-zero starts within microgrids themselves. In fact, today’s microgrids are largely dominated by generators using fossil fuels, natural gas and diesel, with high greenhouse gas emissions. In short, the transition to net-zero means replacing fossil fueled generators with renewable generation in microgrids. This transition is extended by including new dispatchable generation technologies that are 100% carbon-free and that offer additional advantage of a more-dependable and sustainable source of energy and power. Basically, the decarbonization of microgrids requires three elements:

1) maximizing generation from renewable energy resources,

2) management of storage and flexible loads to balance the variability and intermittency of renewable energy resources, and

3) introducing new clean power sources, including hydrogen-based generation and small modular reactors.

This report affirms a need for specific focus by governmental agencies at national, regional, and local levels to establish technology, policy, and investment in this area. The intention of the Net-Zero Microgrid (NZM) Program is to inform these constituencies with cross-cutting research and tools for the reduction of GHG in microgrids – to net-zero in the near term eventually to zero in the longer term. . The NZM Program is committed to achieving decarbonization for resiliency and for providing clean energy at the local or distribution level, from remote communities to underserved communities, and large industrial and military facilities. The NZM Planning and Design Platform is a core tool to be developed as an early deliverable of the NZM Program because only a fully integrated microgrid-design approach will ensure maximum carbon reduction in energy production.

Idaho National Laboratory
Part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s complex of national laboratories, INL performs work in each of the strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science & environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research & development.
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