Research at Missouri University of Science and Technology will use four solar homes to test a microgrid renewable energy management and and storage system. This university news release says the homes were built by students at the school, along with support from utility company representatives the Army Corps of Engineers and several Missouri businesses, at the university’s Solar Village.
“Distributed power generation is one of the key elements of a microgrid. In our case, we’re using solar panels,” says Dr. Mehdi Ferdowsi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T. “It’s called a microgrid because it’s less dependent on the utility power grid. The idea is that if there is a blackout, it can operate in what we call ‘islanded mode,’ and convert to using stored solar energy.
“Utility companies are interested to see if this could be a viable business model for the future,” he says. “For example, they could rent out renewable energy generators to subdivisions, creating a new paradigm for selling electricity.”
Ferdowsi says that Missouri S&T’s Solar Village is an ideal place to test microgrid technology. “The four houses were built in a 10-year span of time and each was designed individually, but converting them to the technology is not complicated,” he says.
Students actually live in the solar houses and monitor the results. School officials hope this demonstrates the practical application of the small-scale grid system with renewable energy.