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Microgrid Design

Photo of a microgrid test site at the National Wind Technology Center.

NREL designs independent electrical generation and distribution systems called microgrids, which deliver energy that is reliable, economical, and sustainable. NREL experts work with military, government, industry, and other organizations that cannot afford to lose power to develop reliable and cost-effective microgrid systems.

Expertise and Knowledge

NREL offers microgrid technical expertise and project support that includes engineering, energy analysis and modeling, financial analysis, and energy management. Our comprehensive and innovative approach to microgrid design is called Continuously Optimized Reliable Energy (CORE) Microgrids. The CORE microgrid approach includes advantages such as:

  • Integrating into 24/7 operations
  • Optimizing economics or energy surety
  • Focusing on fuel diversity
  • Expanding and contracting to deliver energy for all load coverage spheres
  • Allowing for gradual addition of components over time.

Microgrid Project Examples

NREL's microgrid system experts specialize in designing independent electricity grids that ensure power during times of interruption from the main electricity grid, or provide power at remote locations not readily accessible to a reliable grid. Below are examples of our microgrid projects.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Microgrid

NREL developed a microgrid design for the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar in San Diego, California, using the CORE microgrid process. The design team evaluated several configurations, scenarios, equipment ratings, and other elements. The microgrid design for Miramar includes diverse energy sources such as solar, landfill gas, natural gas, and diesel fuel to provide continuous and independent electricity. Learn about our other work with MCAS Miramar.

U.S. Air Force Academy Microgrid

NREL is developing a microgrid design for the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the electric distribution system is owned and operated by the local utility. NREL is helping to define the project scope including critical loads and generation options; gathering data about load demand characteristics, grid infrastructure, and operations; and analyzing designs. Potential microgrid elements include combined heat and power, existing solar, and energy storage.

South Potomac-Dahlgren Potential Microgrid

NREL is conducting initial studies for a microgrid at the Naval Support Facility in Dahlgren, Virginia. The intent is to implement a microgrid controller to improve energy reliability and intelligent distribution at the site.