Honeywell joins forces with Fort Bragg on networked microgrid

Many military bases and a growing number of businesses rely on microgrids and generators for power resiliency. A new $3.4 million project at Fort Bragg in North Carolina will be one of the first to tie multiple backup power sources together into a network using advanced controls and sophisticated management software.

While it's not unusual for microgrids to include multiple generation assets, what will make this installation unique is its capability to orchestrate this power deliberately.

The technology will enable Fort Bragg – one of the world's largest military installations and home to more than 40,000 soldiers and their families –  to direct the backup electricity produced on site by several different systems to the buildings that need it, rather than requiring the power be used only in specific places.

The work is being orchestrated by Honeywell and financed under the Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program.

At the center of the new microgrid network is Honeywell's Secured Network of Assured Power Enclaves (SNAPE) technology, which gives energy managers on base a single view of what's available. In the event of an outage, SNAPE can direct backup power only to the buildings that require it. Because the system can also connect with the main electrical grid, it will also allow the base to respond to demand response events, which will help with its ongoing energy efficiency program.

"Using backup generation assets in this type of capacity is unique and difficult," said Dave Jones, energy and environment solutions leader, Energy & Environmental Solutions at Honeywell.

Right now, there are approximately 62 megawatts of backup generation capacity at the base, which uses 150 MW at its peak load, Jones said. The first phase of the networked microgrid project will use two SNAPE systems and affect about 7 MW of the backup power available, also providing insights into operations at the base's central heating and cooling plant.

The installation is scheduled to go online in early 2015.

"Many organizations are forced to choose between improving efficiency or improving energy security," said Greg Bean, director of public works at Fort Bragg, in a statement. "However, with this project we'll be able to enhance the reliability of our current generation capacity, and utilize it in a far more cost- and energy-efficient way."

The military views microgrids as an important ally in the fight for energy independence. Honeywell's presence on Fort Bragg actually reaches back more than a decade. It took over operations and maintenance for the post's 11 central plants back in 2001. On-site generation assets there include a renewable biomass plant and a 5 MW solar system.

The data gathered as part of the Fort Bragg project will be used to guide the design of similar projects, Jones said.

Honeywell has projects at more than 150 federal buildings and campuses under its belt, including developing and operating one of the largest microgrids in the United States at the Food and Drug administration headquarters in Maryland.

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