Demystifying microgrids

Microgrids are multiple generation points and loads under one control system that is optimising the generation and the power distribution to the users. Microgrid refers to distributed energy resources and loads that can be operated in a controlled, coordinated way, optimizing the use of the grid resources.

The main features of microgrids are:

  • they can be connected to the main power grid, operate in “islanded” mode or be completely off-grid;
  • they can be supported by storage systems and grid-regulation systems
  • compared to centralised generation systems connected with multiple-voltage grids,  they account for more reliable and better quality power supply, grid resiliency, source independence almost no grid losses;
  • can be tailored to each customer’s requirements;
  • microgrids are scalable and there is no cap as to size; can power remote mines, industrial and commercial sites, villages, communities, clusters of farming facilities.

Microgrids can deliver energy at a lower cost compared with the energy supplied from far-away generation points, since they are optimized for the the local conditions. Microgrids work at best when exploiting local sources of fuel – typically renewable sources – and geografically concentrated loads.

The trade-off between a centralised system and a microgrid is based essentially on the assesment of transmission costs and generation costs.

An interesting post about how India is planning to develope microgrids can be found here:

A new frontier for the development of microgrids is the financial sustainability of a business model in which there is not a major off-taker signing a PPA to grant the power purchase for the time required to pay back the investment.
Marco Bonvini

Posted in off grid | Leave a comment

Solar-diesel hybrid and storage projects targeted by a large investment fund

2015-10-22 | According to THEnergy, a renowned investment company has established a fund between 100 and 200 M€ for hybrid diesel-electric power systems addressed to off-grid industrial sites worldwide. The equity is scheduled to be invested within a period of three years. Taking into account additional debt capital on a project level the finance company expects the total investment to be in the range of EUR 200–400 million. Read the full post here from Solarserver.

Posted in battery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

DNV-GL Pilot projects picked focused on hybrid marine development

The shipping company Nor Lines will take the lead on the cargoferry project.

The shipping company Nor Lines will take the lead on the cargoferry project.

Global classification society DNV GL and 25 partners from the Norwegian maritime industry and the Norwegian authorities have presented the five pilot projects that will be pursued as part of Norway’s Green Coastal Shipping Programme. Four out of five include #hybrid #marine engines or infrastructures.

Posted in battery, press | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New Offshore Service Vessel with hybrid diesel-electric engine

OSV-Siemens-1Innovative (and bold) Offshore Service Vessel (OSV) dedicated to off-shore wind turbines came on line recently from a concept devised by Siemens which features a hybrid diesel-electric engine to propel the ship. Read the original post here and download here an interesting infographic.

Posted in off grid | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hybrid Marine Propulsion (Diesel-Electric Drive) – A project to assess performances.

Overall Concept

Hybrid Marine Propulsion Systems – propulsion systems coupling diesel engines with electric drive – have been around only for a few years but the industry is currently growing at a 12% rate y/y and is expected to grow at a 8% CAGR up to 2022 [1], compared with a 3% rate for standard fossil-fueled engines.


Though type-certification standards are long-established about single components – engines, generators and batteries, battery management systems – there are no standards about the hybrid systems as a whole and more specifically about performance prediction systems.

Published trials by engine and ship manufacturers claim significant results in terms of fuel saving and emissions reduction in actual installation on OSVs [2], tugs[3], ferries . Still there is no evidence of the methodology used to calculate the performances and to prove consistency in the results with different vessels.

Project outline and expected results

It is known that the performance of diesel engines at partial loads is different from the performance at full load. …. Continue reading from the original post on LinkedIn here >>

Posted in off grid | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Off-grid bivouac in high mountain | Bivacco Fanton | Italian Dolomites

An off-grid bivouac in high mountains, at 2.660 mt above the sea in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, was the ambitious challenge posted by the local authority. A new “Bivacco Fanton” bivouac was required in replacement of the old one worn out, and located close to “Forcella Marmarole“a saddle connecting two valleys frequently reached by trekkers and skitourers.

Bivacco Fanton concept

Bivacco Fanton concept by Arch. M.Calvi and G.Ferrari

The requirements were challenging: self-powered with sufficient energy storage for communication and minimal heating, equipped with TLC connection, roomy for 12 people, accessible in winter with deep snow, designed to be almost maintenance-free, less for a twice-a-year food and water resupply. The construction had to be carefully planned to allow the transportation by chopper and the assemble of the kit in a dash time.

The energy requirements and the power supply planning are here (summary table) and here (detailed sheet).

Our partners arch. Matteo Calvi and arch. Guido Ferrari did not win the contest, but they worked hard and developed a cool project we like to share it here. Specifications and detailed design available upon request for other applications -> please contact us here.

Posted in off grid | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hybrid ship propulsion: further tests by DNV GL show improved energy efficiency

hybrid-Viking-Lady-2“The battery hybrid installation has been tested in sea trials, which showed that a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, 25 per cent reduction in NOx emissions and 30 per cent reduction in GHG emissions can be realised in practice, especially for [Dynamic Positioning] DP operations”, said DNV GL in a statement on November 2014.

The news follow suits announcements received in recent years about other tests and actual feed-back from hybrid engine installations by Foss Maritime and others on tugs, oil&gas field assistance vessels and large yachts.

Related post (in Italian) about the hybrid marine engine sector >> here.

Posted in off grid | Leave a comment

Overview of current development in electrical energy storage technologies and potentials.

Electrical energy storage technologies with challenges to the UK energy systems.

Electrical energy storage technologies with challenges to the UK energy systems.

Comprehensive scientific article about #storage technologies up-to-date from Science Direct. A must-read for storage professionals.

Posted in battery, press | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A new project of a prefabricated wooden house energy self-sufficient

A new prefab wooden house project from OneBuilding. The project is designed to be energy self-sufficient specifically in mild climates areas but is easily adaptable to a wide range of latitude and climate situations.

The concept includes specific features to make manufacturing, logistics and installation as easy and seamless as possible. The walls are made of multiples of 62,5-cm-wide panels to provide for production automated systems and are assembled in multiples of 2,45 meters to meet transportation requirements.



The roof orientation and tilt are adjustable according to the latitude of installation for maximum solar energy gain.

The walls have a massive isolation for a high living comfort and the lowest energy use for internal climate control.

The global power draw can be produced by a solar system connected to a battery bank and a back-up generator (gas or diesel) in case of off-grid configurations.



Many different internal layouts are available according to the building’s use – internal panels are fixed in built-in stud in the floor for easy changes during the building’s life.

The project was specifically addressed to quality building developments by a market-leading contruction company in Italy.

The concept can be applied to meet high-end consumers, still keeping a very low-cost pricing for the building’s structure. We would be happy to give more infos, please contact us here.

Posted in off grid | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Off-grid power from a portable stove – cool design with many features

BioLite camp stove with power generator

BioLite camp stove with power generator

Here’s a cool item for off-grid goers on the move: you get heat and power from your own fuel, like simple wood found on your way. Actually the idea from BioLite comes a long way back, from the observation that almost half of the world population cooks their food from open fires – regardless of the toxic exhalations and the damages to the food. The portable stove delivers heat from a close chamber preventing the food to be exposed directly to the flames. But the cool feature is the tiny embedded thermolectric generator: it is rated to deliver 10W of power – enough to power up small appliances (an i-Pad is credited to require 5 W at 5 V  – although with i-Pad you’d better pay more attention to the actual power requirementes) or LED lights or whatever you might need in an emergency situation or on a camp or simply at off-grid dwellings.

The manufacturing company has been funded by VCs, and looks ahead to sell into many of the African countries, where people with no – or extremely poor – power grid close-by are increasingly expanding the adoption of mobile phones.

Posted in off grid | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment