Siemens USA launched an advanced microgrid research and demonstration environment at its headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. The living lab will validate the latest technologies in order to provide the market with a comprehensive blueprint of how microgrids can be operated in similar applications, such as universities, office parks, and industrial sites, while reducing the adverse impacts of energy uncertainty.

The Princeton microgrid integrates technologies across the company’s Smart Infrastructure portfolio, including photovoltaics (PV), battery storage, electrical power infrastructure, building management systems, and microgrid control systems, allowing researchers to study each component of the microgrid and the system as a comprehensive solution. The living lab, which was developed utilizing automated microgrid design tools, will also result in a 50% reduction of the Princeton facility’s CO2 footprint.

Siemens researchers will focus on investigating and demonstrating grid management functionality and creating algorithms to expand the system’s flexibility and CO2 efficiency while reducing energy consumption. The microgrid will be powered by the renewable energy generated by the PV system, storing excess energy to be used when needed. The team will also introduce tests to see how the technology behaves in various scenarios, including completely islanding the system from the grid.

“Microgrids continue to become an integral part of our modern-day energy systems because they not only provide an answer to threats like extreme weather and power outages, but will also play a significant role in helping cities and communities meet their challenging CO2 reduction targets,” said Dave Hopping, president and CEO, Siemens Smart Infrastructure North America. “Our goal through this unique research project is to demystify the difficulties around installing and operating a microgrid to provide a clear path toward clean energy and carbon neutrality.”

The microgrid’s loads and energy assets are controlled by seamless Advanced Microgrid Controls, an integrated software and hardware solution comprised of Siemens SICAM microgrid controller and Russelectric switchgear and transfer switches.

The microgrid will connect to the Siemens MindSphere cloud-based platform with data analytics and system monitoring technologies with support provided by the MindSphere team located in Austin, Texas. The system features a user-friendly dashboard for both building occupants and engineers that provides real-time data on how the grid is operating and performing, a feature that has recently received a Red Dot Design Award. 

“The microgrid market has been growing quickly and we have the opportunity to test how each component of these systems work as a whole,” said Xiaofan Wu, Princeton Island grid project manager, Siemens Corp. Technology. “The beauty of our R&D [research and development] work in Princeton is that we have the power to investigate and validate highly innovative technologies continuously in a real environment, resulting in a clear blueprint for a more efficient and flexible microgrid system that can be replicated all over the world.”