Smart Energy for Commercial & Industrial Complexes × Adapting to Smart Inverters Other technologies are changing how campuses and large complexes generate and receive energy. Just as the electric grid is increasingly becoming bidirectional to evolve with more distributed generation, individual facilities need bidirectional inverters – called smart inverters – to help with the two-way movement of power. “It’s being explored and demonstrated now,” Azer said. “Bidirectional control through smart inverters is needed so you can create your energy and send it out, or you can receive energy for the components that you have. Smart inverters understand both power in and power out. It’s a logical manifestation of the mechanisms that are being put into place.” Azer said he had the opportunity to watch testing of these units at a large utility’s research laboratory. “They were testing three or four of the most common manufacturers’ bidirectional controls because the utility wanted to understand what they can do and how they can interact with those pieces of equipment,” Azer said. “Through radio linkage from the smart meter to the inverters, they can communicate, and trigger certain behaviors to happen that benefit the grid.” Azer emphasized that the electrical grid will always be needed, but what it looks like will dramatically change. “The grid’s not going away, but the nature of the grid is changing to provide structure and continuity, whether we’re talking about grid-operated elements or facility-operated elements,” he said. Smart Integrated Infrastructure This transformation of the electric power industry prompted Black & Veatch to create its Smart Integrated Infrastructure (SII) business to bring together two key elements – intelligent infrastructure that has the ability to communicate, and data analytics, which can provide deep insights into operations that allow for actionable decisions. “Our goal with Smart Integrated Infrastructure is to help our clients maximize the capabilities of these distributed, interconnected systems to increase efficiency, resiliency and performance,” Azer said. The heart of Smart Integrated Infrastructure lies in its data analytics platform, ASSET360®. ASSET360 gathers and analyzes vast amounts of data to help users understand their system’s behavior. ASSET360 uses this data to detect and diagnose issues and direct action based on what is happening within a utility’s system. The cloud-based platform provides dashboard reporting in a secure environment. Scott Stallard, Vice President and Director of Smart Analytics for SII, said ASSET360 can also be used to determine best time-of-use for self-generators. “Time-of-use pricing is a capability we can address,” Stallard said. “We need a proper connection to day- ahead and hour-ahead markets. From there, we can construct a duty profile of the facility, then construct alternative profiles that shift time-of-use to see potential savings and optimal use trade-offs.” As demand response mechanisms increasingly come into play, large facilities will have a better understanding of the direct impact to their operating costs. “Eventually, real-time pricing in demand response products will exist, making the opportunity even better to leverage price signals,” Stallard said. “This will alter the nature and timing of energy consumption and storage.” Move to Microgrids Some facilities are going beyond rooftop solar or wind, and creating a complete microgrid that can allow for operation off the grid if desired, thereby increasing a facility’s resiliency against disruptions, whether caused by nature or man-made. “We see microgrids at large hospitals, military bases, industrial facilities, commercial complexes and at colleges and universities,” Azer said. “Microgrids can scale, so that they’re very versatile for a wide array of businesses or government operations.” In order to experience the operations and benefits of microgrids, Black & Veatch installed a microgrid for its Innovation Pavilion at its World Headquarters in Overland Park, Kan. It features solar PV, geothermal, microturbines and battery storage. Its usage is monitored and controlled by ASSET360. “It allows us to get close to the real equipment in an operation, so it’s not just spec sheets and performance software – you can see the real impact of it,” said Jason Abiecunas, Distributed Generation Service Area Leader for Black & Veatch’s energy business. “It’s a powerful message to our clients and vendors to say ‘We’re living the same way that you’re living,’ so that we can lead those designs through experience. It also helps to participate in the economics of the energy marketplace.” Azer said decreasing costs and increasing participation in overall self-generation will become the ‘new normal.’ “As batteries and solar panels drop in cost, and microgrids become more universal, the amount and type of self-generation is only going to increase over time, and Black & Veatch is poised to be actively involved in these markets.” Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.