Idaho National Laboratory launches Net-Zero Microgrid program

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – The Idaho National Laboratory is launching a new Net-Zero Microgrid (NZM) program with funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity.

This program will seek carbon-free solutions that provide increased resilience to critical infrastructure, supporting the United States and the world, including underserved communities.

“Microgrids are a collection of electricity generators that can run themselves without being connected to the grid,” said Tim McJunkin, senior researcher in the Department of Electrical and Energy Systems at INL. “If they are connected to the grid, they can support themselves as well as the distribution and transmission systems. This means that they can provide grid services to both local utilities and large power authorities.

Microgrids are increasingly seen as an uninterrupted power source for utilities such as transportation, healthcare, and emergency response centers. Some of them have a reduced carbon footprint, which helps meet US emissions targets and a net zero carbon economy.

The Net-Zero Microgrid program will conduct cross-cutting research to accelerate the phase-out of carbon-emitting technologies. It will organize research and development activities on multiple energy resources.

For example, the program leverages the expertise and platforms of the INL’s Energy Systems Laboratory and its nuclear energy research testbeds such as the MARVEL (Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation).

“Nuclear, renewables and energy storage can potentially have a great advantage over conventional diesel or natural gas microgrids,” said Kurt Myers, senior microgrids researcher at INL. “Shrinking or eliminating fuel supply chains can reduce the impacts and potential costs of remote applications and improve availability in cases where pipelines or supply systems could be disrupted by weather conditions, disasters. or cyber attacks. “

A sustainable energy future depends on the ability to harness carbon-free energy sources and deliver electricity derived from these sources – economically and reliably – where and when it is needed.

“Today, micro-grids provide stable, high-quality power for essential military and community needs. But they almost all use conventional fossil fuel generators, ”said McJunkin. “This program will address the barriers to moving away from the fossil fuel option.”

INL is committed to demonstrating the viability of micro-grids that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from over 80% in 2020 to less than 50% over the next four years. Integrating renewable energy sources with small reactors, hydrogen fuel cells and energy storage will allow us to achieve these goals.

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