In a partnership with Fall River Electric Cooperative at its hydropower plant in southeast Idaho, INL engineers say communities with clean energy resources can use microgrid technology to restart and maintain stable power during a blackout. (Courtesy of the Idaho National Laboratory)
Though it appears to be a shipping container on the outside, Idaho National Laboratory’s latest technology — Microgrid in a Box — can help rural communities maintain power during emergencies.
On July 21, the INL celebrated the ribbon cutting of its new microgrid project, which was deployed in partnership with the Fall River Electric Cooperative at its hydropower plant in southeast Idaho.
According to the INL website, the mobile grid system can tie into a modern electrical grid and coordinate the distribution of electricity for a small town, military base or a hospital.
At the ribbon cutting, the INL team showed how the rural hydropower plant could be used to restore the portable grid after a blackout.
“There are hundreds of hydropower plants like this one serving small communities across the country,” INL’s Energy Systems group lead Thomas Mosier said in a press release. “What we’ve demonstrated are new technologies that can enable these communities to use the hydropower resources they already have to restart and maintain stable power to essential services, even during an emergency event.”
Kurt Myers, an INL energy systems engineer, said the microgrid was primarily developed for military purposes overseas, but it can also help provide outage support to rural Idaho communities during an emergency.
“Because it’s easy to disassemble and move, Microgrid in a Box sidesteps the need for construction and enables us to work more effectively with diesel generators — or even to replace them with carbon-free technologies such as nuclear, solar and those that run on clean fuels,” he said, according to the INL website.
Developed by the INL and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office, the Microgrid in a Box can provide power from multiple energy sources including hydropower, solar panels, wind turbines, diesel generators and even small nuclear reactors.
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