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Unlocking the Full Benefits of Energy Storage in Microgrids with a Localized Energy Management System (EMS)

Recent years have shown that intense storms, and the ensuing levels of coordination and preparation have led to power grid disruptions and a reduction in the overall resiliency of our power systems. Going forward, how can we use energy storage and microgrids to enhance current technologies to create more resilience?

                As an industry, we know energy storage solutions offer an added level of resilience that can help us weather these storms. To fully harness the potential of energy storage, adding a smarter and Localized Energy Management System (local EMS) will help predict and optimize the use of stored energy. This local EMS can integrate with an energy storage system adding resiliency to the power system which can help communities whose grid supply fails during an emergency by preventing loss of their power supply. Therefore, energy storage systems with an integrated and local EMS are essential to ensure a more resilient and sustainable energy future.

               One of the key advantages of implementing a local EMS is the ability to leverage weather forecasting to optimize the operating schedule of energy storage. The local EMS relies on weather forecasting to predict the amount of, for example, solar photovoltaic (PV) energy that will be generated in the coming hours or days. This is essential as solar PV is highly dependent on weather conditions, such as sunlight intensity and cloud cover - and the same can be said for other renewable sources such as wind. Using this information, the system can determine the charging strategy for the energy storage system. It can decide whether to prioritize charging the batteries using solar PV during sunny hours or to rely on more grid electricity during cloudy periods. Moreover, weather forecasting allows the local EMS to anticipate extreme weather events and implement resiliency plans. These plans might involve adjusting the charging strategy, discharging the energy storage system preemptively to enable it to charge based on upcoming PV production, or preparing for potential demand fluctuations and loss of grid events. Weather forecasting ensures efficient use of local renewable energy and grid electricity, ultimately leading to better energy management, cost savings, and most importantly, resiliency

             Effective load management is also essential to ensure the longevity of stored energy for critical loads and can be provided by an EMS in a microgrid resilience situation. The goal of load management is to ensure that energy consumption remains within acceptable limits, to reduce peak demand which can be costly and put strain on the power grid and enhance the longevity of microgrid island operation. An example of using effective load management with a local EMS in a microgrid setting is the Lac-Mégantic microgrid project. In this project, four smart buildings were equipped with building management systems (BMS), which allow the local EMS controller to reduce building power consumption when necessary. Typical BMS controls oversee and manage several various functions, including HVAC, lighting, security, and more. When brought under local EMS management, the BMS enhances energy efficiency and contributes to effective load management. Crucially, the BMS and local EMS can collaborate to help plan for grid outages or emergencies as the system monitors grid status, ensuring emergency readiness and automatically switching to energy storage under contingency events. The BMS can manage power supply of critical loads in the building during power outages, ensuring continuity of essential operations and lengthening the period of power supply under grid outages. 


               In the face of more frequent and intense storms , energy storage solutions combined with a local EMS offers a crucial layer of resilience to power systems in the form of microgrids. The combination of energy storage and an integrated and localized EMS becomes essential in building a more reliable, sustainable, and resilient energy future. By harnessing the potential of these technologies, we can better weather storms and system disruptions, ensuring continuous supply of electricity even in the most challenging circumstances. Investing in smarter local EMS and energy storage solutions is, therefore, a pivotal step towards a more resilient and sustainable energy landscape.  

         Smarter Grid Solutions has been developing and delivering advanced grid, microgrid and energy management capabilities to customers for several years. Our technology and product development teams have been adding to our microgrid control and local EMS capabilities and delivering these into sophisticated projects such as at Lac-Mégantic in Canada as noted above. We expect the demand for these products and services to grow in line with customer need for resilient power supplies and climate change.


Learn more about the Lac-Mégantic Project