Stone Edge Farm has selected Emerson automation technologies to support the operation of its microgrid, a self-sufficient energy production and distribution facility relying on diverse sources of electricity including solar power, wind power, hydrogen power and advanced storage battery technology.
Home to a farm, spa and vineyard in Sonoma, Calif., Stone Edge Farm’s innovative and ambitious microgrid project strives to not only reduce the property’s greenhouse gas emissions, but also achieve energy independence, Stone Edge Farm said.
A microgrid can act as an “island” operation, connecting and disconnecting from the larger distribution grid to satisfy its power needs. Should a weather or other emergency event disrupt grid operation like the 2014 Northern California earthquake, Stone Edge Farm will be able to safely disconnect and operate autonomously. When connected, the farm will be able to draw supplemental power from the grid if needed, or sell excess power back to the grid.
“From the beginning, it was our vision to push the boundaries of microgrid technology and renewable energy,” said Craig Wooster, chief executive office of Wooster Engineering, which awarded the automation contract to Emerson. “We want to reduce the carbon footprint of the 16-acre property, attain a degree of energy independence, and become a showcase of environmental sustainability. Emerson’s automation technologies will play an important role in helping us achieve these goals.”
Emerson’s Ovation technology helps ensure efficient and reliable operation of the microgrid, providing the operator with a concise view of all generating assets and implementing the optimal way to meet energy demands while reducing environmental impact.
The Ovation system will manage internal microgrid operations including solar photovoltaic and thermal rooftop systems, wind turbines, battery storage systems and a microturbine within a combined heat and power plant. It will also interface to systems controlling the microgrid’s connection to the electrical grid through PG&E, the local electric provider.
“As technology advances and interest in energy independence and renewable generation grows, microgrids are becoming more prevalent. And as they gain traction, they will begin to reshape the power generation sector,” said Bob Yeager, president, Power & Water, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Emerson’s expertise and technologies are a valuable resource for microgrid operators, helping to ensure their energy sources operate efficiently, reliably and cost effectively.”
Research forecasts estimate that by 2020 microgrid vendor revenue globally will be in the range of $3.5 billion to nearly $20 billion. The range estimates are wide because research numbers are based on the way each defines a microgrid. Some firms take a narrower approach than others in what is a complicated market. The bottom line, say experts, is that the microgrid market is healthy and growing.