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Direct current (DC) microgrids have significant potential in regards to more efficiently utilizing energy, yet many questions remain before these systems can be scaled to a commercial level in the building sector.  The Alliance Center is piloting our Direct Current Microgrid project and collaborating with industry thought leaders to highlight barriers to entry and the possibilities of adopting DC microgrids on a large scale.

HOW IT WORKS

Typically energy from generators, like solar panels, has to be converted from DC to alternate current (AC) and then back again. This process is inefficient and results in the loss of energy. The Alliance Center’s DC microgrid removes the need for this conversion and makes it possible for us to take energy directly from our generators and power our building. Utilizing DC microgrids has the capacity to save energy and money and also increase the resiliency of buildings operating with such a system.

WE’RE WORKING WITH OUR PARTNERS TO:

Field test DC distribution equipment to provide the wider market with the real-world data needed to evaluate the potential costs and benefits of deploying DC microgrids

Identify the technical and operational limitations preventing the wider adoption of DC distribution

Provide a key real-world test of a DC microgrid’s efficiency gains and corresponding energy savings going straight from DC generation (solar in our case) to native DC equipment without any conversions along the way

PROJECT MILESTONES

Summer 2014 – Early Discussions

Spring 2015 – Collaboration efforts begin

Winter 2015 – DC installation design efforts begin

Spring 2016 – Data collection begins for AC network for baseline comparisons 

Fall 2016 – Formal plans submitted to City of Denver

Fall 2017 – Construction began

Winter 2017 (Ongoing) – System testing began

Fall 2018 – Microgrid partner goes under

Fall 2019 – System is operational

Spring 2020 – Project becomes part of a larger National Renewable Energy Laboratory Study

If you are interested in participating in this project or have ideas on how we can best advance commercial distributed energy resources, contact Chris Bowyer today!