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Gallaudet University campus to be powered by clean energy microgrid

April 14, 2022

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Gallaudet University is partnering with Scale Microgrid Solutions and Urban Ingenuity to build a world-class, clean energy microgrid. The microgrid is expected to come online in the fall of 2023. Read more about this exciting, innovative new system below!

Watch this announcement in American Sign Language.

Read the joint news release from Gallaudet University,
Scale Microgrid Solutions and Urban Ingenuity.

New Gallaudet University campus microgrid promises ‘reliability’ and ‘resiliency’

What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a system that combines multiple sources of electricity. It can operate independently or collaboratively with the Washington, D.C. power grid, and will deliver reliable energy for the campus and significantly reduce the university’s utility costs. This project will meet much of the university’s energy demand, provide clean power to the surrounding community, and relieve congestion on the city’s electricity grid.

What are some of the benefits of the microgrid?

The microgrid will work in parallel with the utility to power the campus. If there is a grid outage – that is, if the power in our area goes out – the microgrid will provide nearly all of the University’s electricity needs, allowing campus operations to continue with minimal disruption.

In addition, electricity generated by the solar arrays will be available to Washington, D.C. residents, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses through the District of Columbia’s community solar program. As many as 1,500 nearby households and small businesses that lack the roof space or capital to install solar panels will be able to purchase solar energy generated at Gallaudet. 

How did this come about?

Gallaudet has an Office of Energy and Sustainability. This is one of the units under Campus Design and Facilities, which in turn is under the Chief Operating Officer. The Office of Energy and Sustainability is responsible for ensuring that we use energy wisely and efficiently, that we reduce our carbon footprint, and that we plan for a future with less dependence on fossil fuels. The geothermal field under Olmsted Green, which provides heating and cooling for Living and Learning Residence Hall 6 (LLRH6), is one example of its work. The microgrid project is the culmination of several years of careful planning to ensure that the project delivers significant economic, resiliency, and environmental benefits..

What are the benefits to the surrounding community?

The project’s participation in the D.C. community solar program is made possible through extensive collaboration with Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO). Typically, on-site community solar projects connect to the grid directly, skipping the home or building’s power infrastructure entirely. However, in this case, the electricity production from the solar panels distributed across Gallaudet’s campus is being tracked and allocated for community solar credits, despite being connected to the university’s own electrical infrastructure. 

This “virtual front of the meter” approach let Scale develop the project without the need for extensive cabling costs that would be required to aggregate these many distributed solar systems and connect them directly to PEPCO’s grid. Instead, they simply connect to the nearest power panel and PEPCO tracks the output through sensors and software.

When will the microgrid go online?

The microgrid is expected to go online by Fall 2023.

Tell me more! 

The microgrid consists of 2.5 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic panels spread across numerous campus rooftops and parking garages, a 1.2MW/2.5MWh lithium-ion battery energy storage system, and a 4.5MW combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP) system. Advanced microgrid controls ensure that these components work seamlessly together and with the broader power grid. 

Who is building the microgrid?

Scale Microgrid Solutions will design, build, and operate this project with a consortium of industry-leading technology and contracting collaborators, including Urban Ingenuity, Schneider Electric, Mitsubishi, CHA Consulting, and New Columbia Solar.

14 April 2022

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