Remote City in Alaska Enhances Its Microgrid for Resilience (Text Version)

This is the text version of the video Remote City in Alaska Enhances Its Microgrid for Resilience.

This video describes how Cordova, Alaska teamed with the national laboratory project RADIANCE to improve its microgrid.

[Narrator speaks]

Cordova, like so many other cities in Alaska, is not connected to a larger energy system. It is a microgrid. All its electricity comes from either hydropower or diesel generation, but with Cordova's legacy controls and sensing infrastructure, these two energy sources lacked the flexibility needed for a fast response to resilience scenarios, especially for Cordova's dynamic fishing industry and emergency services.

For Cordova and many other remote Alaskan communities, advanced metering devices and precise microgrid controls can make the difference for enhanced resilience, and the Department of Energy endeavored to demonstrate this.

In the largest DOE Grid-Modernization Laboratory Consortium project to date, Cordova and the national laboratories teamed up on the project RADIANCE: Resilient Alaskan Distribution system Improvements using Automation, Network analysis, Control, and Energy storage. Across 5 years of work, the RADIANCE team, led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), succeeded in updating Cordova’s distribution system infrastructure, deploying microgrid controls, and designing a digital twin for experimentation, instrumenting the communities' distribution systems with advanced phasor measurement units to better observe and evaluate the systems upgrades.

Cordova transformed its electrical system into a resilient and smart grid, with real-time sensing providing a full picture of the system’s state. The new systems can reconfigure automatically, taking into account extreme events, load priorities such as hospitals, and more. Several Alaskan cities along the coast have a similar geography and economy to Cordova—they could also apply microgrid controls that revolve around hydropower and load swings.

RADIANCE has another major takeaway: Microgrid operation is as important as its integration. Communities must be able to manage their new system, and for Cordova, national lab capabilities helped. NREL mirrored Cordova’s microgrid in the lab using the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems platform, also known as ARIES. The same meters, system network, and controls were replicated in a digital twin, and data from Cordova operations fed into the digital twin.

NREL even connected to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's research platform for live validations of Cordova microgrid controls. These premier lab capabilities allow communities to compare their energy options and get oriented with new technologies at reduced risk.

RADIANCE has shown how modern microgrid technology can help reach resilience targets, in city centers and hard to reach communities. The Department of Energy and its labs have devised extraordinary capabilities for grid emulation, ready to assist other communities in their transformations to clean, resilient energy systems.

[Narration ends]

[Headshot and quote on screen: By uniting expertise and engaging communities and utilities, we accelerate the adoption of resilient and sustainable microgrid solutions. Dan Ton, Program Manager at U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity]

[Headshot and quote on screen: The advanced metering infrastructure and load management approach has sharply improved our customer service platform. Clay Coplin, CEO of the Cordova Electric Cooperative]

[Headshot and quote on screen: A reliable grid empowers small fishing communities like Cordova and Alaska Natives by safeguarding livelihoods, enhancing safety and education, preserving culture, and fostering economic growth. Thomas Mack, CEO of the Eyak Corporation]

[Text on screen: Learn more about what NREL and ARIES can do for remote communities:]