Ignitis group DSO „Energijos skirstymo operatorius“ (ESO) together with Ignitis Innovation Hub has launched two pilot sites of energy microgrid technology. These two completely autonomous systems are created to supply electricity 24/7 for clients, who are located in distant and more rural areas. This solution will create an opportunity to completely disconnect the pilot sites from the national low voltage grid if claimed successfully.
In these particular locations, the current network is reaching long distances over highly forestry areas, or even lake, resulting in relatively frequent electricity supply disturbances, caused by vegetation impacts. Additionally, it becomes a challenge to ensure the voltage standard for the customers, especially during higher peak consumption periods. The traditional way of solving such problems is to reconstruct the power lines. However, due to geographical difficulty and landscape, the reconstruction costs are overweighting the rational use of CAPEX. Reacting to the concerns that the customers have, we decided to act differently and employ a quick and innovative solution – microgrid.
Microgrid is a technology mix - it contains a Solar photovoltaic (PV) system, which is connected to the insulated container with batteries and inverters. This serves as a main power source for the clients. However, having inconsistent weather conditions for the solar system to supply the needs fully at any time, a diesel generator is required as a back-up battery charging source.
The pilot project is set to be in testing mode for the next 2020 year, during which we expect that in overall the system will supply 70% of electricity need from PV system. In this testing phase, we leave the grid connection as a back-up source, however, if the project is claimed to be reliable and technologically feasible, the problematic overhead power lines will be removed, leaving clients connected only to the microgrid.
In future, after the analysis of the pilot project, it is seen as an attractive alternative for both, clients and DSOs, to deploy microgrids in areas, where grid connections are at their weakest.
The results of the project showed, that such microgrids can be applied to very specific locations, additional evaluation of competencies is needed to maintain such systems needs to be considered.