Examples on where microgrids are used


Microgrids have many different application cases. Check out the real-life examples on where microgrids are used.

Microgrids are small-scale electricity networks. They are power systems which both generate and distribute electricity. Some microgrids are connected to the main electricity grid; others are not connected by choice or because there is no main electricity grid to connect to. 

Modern wide-area electricity grids are vast interconnected systems consisting of millions of electricity consumers and thousands of electricity generators. In Canada and in the United States, for example, the Western Interconnection covers most of the territory west of the Great Plains. It includes about 136,000 miles of high voltage transmission lines, in addition to medium and low voltage distribution lines. A complex patchwork of dozens of utilities, system operators and other entities maintain, operate and regulate it.

Microgrids, in contrast, cover a local area, don’t normally include high voltage transmission lines, and connect far fewer consumers and providers. Typically, private microgrids are owned and operated by the same entity that also owns the load served by the microgrid. Public microgrids serving, for example, an island, are typically owned and operated by a local municipal utility.

Simple microgrids have existed for as long as public electricity service has been available. However, in recent years, the explosive rise in renewable electricity has led to more microgrids being deployed. These modern microgrids incorporate more sophisticated technology. They typically connect a variety of assets including solar arrays, wind turbines, gas or diesel generators, and battery energy storage.

Microgrids used in island grids 

Islands that are too small or too distant to warrant building an electric connection to the mainland are required to operate their own microgrids. Traditionally, island microgrids have relied on diesel generators to provide all or most of their electricity. Generators are perfect for island applications because of their flexible operation. Generators can start up quickly, and a power plant inclusive of multiple generators can effectively cover a very wide load range. Liquid fuels are also the traditional fuels of choice for island power plants because they are easy to transport and store. 

Microgrid components
Click the image to take a closer look at microgrid components

Many islands have seen their residents increasingly dissatisfied with this setup however. Older generators can impact the air quality locally, which can be particularly undesirable for islands that rely on tourism. For islands with few economic resources, the cost of shipping liquid fuel can also be a major burden.

Such islands are turning towards solar and wind generation as ways to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. A smart microgrid integrating a mix of renewable resources, generators and battery energy storage systems can effectively make electricity more affordable and more reliable, while also reducing the environmental impact of the electricity production.

Modern control systems can be programmed with all the parameters of the various distributed energy resources to run the microgrid in order to maximize the use of renewables and minimize imported fuel use. An important benefit is extra resiliency for the grid, avoiding blackouts and brownouts across the network.  

An example would be Calvert Island in British Columbia, Canada, where Cummins Inc. was involved in a project to upgrade the island’s microgrid. The island needed more power but was reliant solely on diesel generation. The island upgraded to a microgrid with solar arrays, battery energy storage and new Cummins diesel generators. The upgrade resulted in fossil fuel consumption being reduced by 83%.

Microgrids used in remote locations

Industrial facilities and settlements located in remote locations with no access to utility service face the same difficulties as islands. These facilities have historically used diesel generators. Fuel needs to be transported, sometimes via truck over long distances in challenging terrains. For mines located in Northern Canada or in remote parts of Australia, for example, the cost of transporting the fuel can easily exceed the cost of the fuel itself. In some regions of the world, such as remote regions of Alaska and northern Canada, transportation of fuel must also take into consideration the changing seasons when road and water ways will allow for transportation vehicles and vessels.

Industrial operations, in addition, need robust systems to guarantee electricity supply. If a mine’s ventilation system comes to a halt because of a power failure, for example, conditions may quickly degrade for workers underground.

Such operations are keen to take advantage of locally available renewable resources to reduce costs and ensure safety. Reducing fuel costs by even a small percentage at a large-scale mining operation can rapidly result in substantial savings.

An example of a mining microgrid is the Agnew gold mine in Western Australia, where Cummins took part in the project to construct a power complex to supply the mine. The site decided on an off-grid 23 MWe power plant made up of 16 MWe gas, 4 MWe solar and 3 MWe diesel power generation. A further 2 MWe of gas-powered generation was added, followed by 18 MWe of wind generation and a 13 MWe energy storage battery and advanced control system. Over half of the 56 MWe capacity hybrid plant is from renewable resources.

Cummins also took part in a project to upgrade the power supply at Fisherman’s Landing marina off of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. During summer, the marina accommodates large yachts where the yachts are provided with electrical service. As a result, the marina’s electrical consumption would experience significant seasonal changes. The marina installed a microgrid incorporating solar power for the low season and diesel generation for the high season. Thanks to the new microgrid, yacht owners can now connect to the marina’s electrical service, and switch off their on-board engines and generators to enjoy the quiet and calm of Desolation Sound. 

Microgrids used for onsite generation 

Microgrids are not exclusive to remote areas. Any facility seeking to integrate multiple loads and multiple on-site generation resources should consider building a microgrid, whether a connection to the main utility service is available or not. 

Military bases often utilize microgrids on their premises for security reasons despite being connected to a utility grid. In Hawaii, for example, the U.S. Navy is in the process of building an extensive microgrid to cover Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickams. The Navy’s project includes several hundred megawatts of solar generation, energy storage, as well as an extensive electrical backbone connecting dozens of buildings and facilities. Outside of emergencies, the Navy’s generation assets will provide power to the local utility.

Other facilities may decide to build a microgrid to simply reduce electricity and energy costs. With intelligent controls, microgrid consumers can switch between grid service and self-generation depending on what is most economical. 

A network of microgrids comprised of various distributed energy resources attached to the main grid also adds resiliency to the whole electrical system, as the grid operator can arrange to utilize these resources as and when necessary. As extra generation is produced and consumed on site, this alleviates pressure on the main grid and translates into less need for investment for upgrades to the distribution network. 

However and wherever microgrids are used, the intelligent systems and technologies now available to integrate renewable resources into local electricity schemes mean that, in economic and societal terms, owners have the opportunity to go renewable while benefitting from cost-effective electricity.

Interested in more on microgrids? You might also like: 

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

5 businesses that can benefit from selling Cummins generators

Cummins dealer discussing home generator

Ninety percent of American business are small- and medium-size. They are the true engines of our economy, employing millions of workers. With many of them looking for new ways to expand their services, generate income and grow their businesses, Cummins home standby and portable generators could be a new source of revenue. 

A Silver Lining in Dark Clouds

According to the Associated Press, power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades, straining our country’s aging power grid. This has increased the frequency and duration of power outages. These frequent outages create a need for reliable backup power for households and other businesses. And for enterprising small- and medium-size businesses, satisfying this need with Cummins generators is a huge opportunity.   

Which businesses could benefit the most from becoming Cummins authorized dealers? Here are our top five:

1. General Contractors — When natural disasters such as ice storms, hurricanes, high winds, forest fires or earthquakes hit, lost power isn’t the only challenge customers face. There is often physical damage to property that must be repaired. When they are helping customers to rebuild, general contractors have an opportunity to estimate home or business’s energy needs and suggest adding a Cummins QuietConnect™ Home Standby Generator. If the customer agrees, the general contractor not only profits from the sale of the generator, but also the labor to install it.

2. Electricians — A good electrician is a trusted source of information. Not only are they experts with the flow of electrons, they often know their customer’s specific electrical setups. After a prolonged power outage, many are often asked “Is there anything you can do to keep my electricity on the next time the power goes out?” Electricians who sell and install Cummins QuietConnect Home Standby Generators can say, “Yes, yes there is.” Installing home standby generators can be another valuable service that electricians provide.

3. Heating & Cooling Contractors — During a power outage, one of the most critical systems knocked offline for home and business owners is their central heating and cooling system. Going without heat or cool air for a long period of time is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous if the temperatures are extreme outside. So, naturally, once power is restored, finding a way to keep the HVAC system on during the next power outage becomes top-of-mind. Since heating and cooling contractors are experts at installing large systems in homes and businesses, adding Cummins QuietConnect standby generators to homes and businesses is a natural way to add another profit center to their businesses.

4. Online Retailers — Up until now, we’ve been discussing standby generators. For businesses that don’t specialize in installing generators permanently into place, Cummins portable generators can be a moneymaker.  While portable generators can be used during power outages, they are better suited to smaller tasks due to their portability. This makes them ideal for camping, tailgating, construction worksites and more. With Cummins’ rugged and reliable reputation, our portable generators are ideal for retailers focused on these market segments.

5. Solar Panel Installers — Most home solar panels are connected directly to the power grid. So, when the power goes out, the solar panels stop providing power. For a backup source of electricity, solar panel installers can either install a solar battery backup, which gets charged by the solar panels, or a home standby generator. Typically, solar battery backups can only power a home for a few hours, so if an area is prone to weather-related outages, a home standby generator such as the Cummins QuietConnect is the better choice.

The Time is Now

With more people than ever looking for backup power generation, now’s a great time to expand your company’s offerings by becoming a Cummins authorized dealer. To learn more visit, cummins.com/partners/dealers.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Ten ways to prepare for rolling blackouts

Cummins service disconnect box mounted on side of house

Heat waves that cause excessive demand for electricity…droughts that make hydropower less available…power grids near active wildfires shut down for safety…aging, overstressed power grids…high winds that snap powerlines…these are all reasons why some parts of the country may face planned power outages this year.  

If you live in an area prone to rolling blackouts, here are some tips to help you ready your family for them: 

  • Sign up for notifications from your local electricity utility — If this service is available from your local utility, it can give you a warning to start preparing before the power goes out. 
  • Download our Power Outage Ultimate Checklist — It provides in-depth information about what to do before, during and after an outage. It even shows you what to do for children, pets and family members with medical needs. You can download it here
  • Stockpile nonperishable food and water — Make sure you have a manual can opener, too. Plan to have enough for everyone so your family can stay hydrated and nourished during the blackout. 
  • Make or purchase ice and coolers — If you have enough warning, make or purchase ice so you can pack some of your perishable food in coolers to preserve it. (A refrigerator will only maintain its internal temperature for about four hours, a freezer for about 48 hours.) 
  • Buy flashlights and extra batteries — Blackouts can be, well, black. Flashlights can be used for safety if you need to move around at night but use them sparingly. Make sure you have enough for every family member.
  • Keep mobile phones charged and gas tanks full — Your phones and your vehicles are your lifelines to the outside world. If you have an EV, make sure it’s fully charged. 
  • Practice manually opening garage doors — If you need to drive somewhere, you first need to be able to get your car out of the garage. 
  • Plan for medications that require refrigeration — You may need to store them in a cooler like your refrigerated food until the power returns. 
  • Invest in a whole-home standby generator — For the ultimate peace of mind, consider one of the Cummins QuietConnect™ home standby generators. In the event of a power outage, your generator will automatically switch on and keep your home powered.  
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups — Place them in central locations on every floor so if any carbon monoxide gets in the home, you are immediately alerted. 

Rolling blackouts seem to be becoming more and more common. Fortunately, there are ways to plan ahead and keep them from completely disrupting your life. To see the different ways that Cummins can help your family keep the power on during these planned power outages, visit us at cummins.com/na/generators/home-standby/whole-house-and-portable or find a local dealer at cummins.com/na/generators/home-standby/find-a-dealer

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins Turbo Technologies gears up to launch the 8th Generation Holset Series 400 Variable Geometry Turbocharger

8th generation HE400VGT

As emission regulations become more stringent, Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) is committed to helping customers reduce emissions and advance fuel economy through innovative new air handling technologies.

Built on 70 years of innovation and dependability, CTT and Holset have introduced a wide range of industry leading air handling technologies. In 2021, CTT launched the 7th generation 400 series Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) to help engine manufacturers meet future emission standards and offer best in class fuel economy. At Cummins, innovation never stops as we continue to advance our current technologies, while developing new ones. With this philosophy in mind, CTT is now preparing to introduce the 8th generation HE400VGT. It is specifically engineered to have top of class performance, reliability and durability for the 10-15L heavy-duty truck market.  

CTT has made significant improvements in turbocharger performance with its latest generation of products. The 8th generation turbocharger will have 5 percent improved efficiency over the previous 7th generation turbo.

In addition to offering improved turbocharger efficiency, which helps customers in engine downsizing, the HE400VGT will have a better transient response, enhanced compressor side oil leak robustness and dual sourcing on key components for supply chain flexibility.

Key highlights of the Holset HE400VGT include a new bearing system and near zero clearances to enhance performance and transient response. These enhancements are achieved by tighter clearances on the compressor stage, lower radial movement on the turbine stage, improved surface finish and new aero designs.

Scheduled to be launched in 2024, this turbocharger incorporates a next generation smart electric actuator and speed sensor with the latest chipset to enhance performance and durability. The dual sourcing strategy helps mitigate any unforeseen electronics shortages that have recently plagued the industry.

Along with the performance enhancements, the latest generation turbocharger will offer best-in-class performance for on-highway heavy-duty trucks coupled with improved fuel economy at key vehicle running points.

“CTT has incorporated exciting new technologies in our latest HE400VGT to help engine customers meet strict emissions requirements and reduce their total cost of ownership,” said Matthew Franklin, Director – Product Management & Marketing. As customers establish their strategies for upcoming emission regulations, CTT continues to build on the success of previous turbocharger launches to deliver innovative products that meet the challenges of our customers’ engine development needs without compromising on performance. 

Want to learn more about CTT’s products and technical innovation? Sign up for our quarterly newsletter today.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Rebuild masterstroke pays off for miners

belt buckle with text reading "Cummins 300th QSK60 MCRS Upgrade"

A masterstroke by Cummins engineers in Australia and the US has resulted in major cost reduction and environmental benefits for mining companies electing to rebuild their QSK60 engines under a special upgrade program.

The engineers focused on rebuild possibilities for the early generation QSK60, and how it could be upgraded to the latest diesel technology at overhaul time with no major change to the base 60-litre V16 design – a feat that eluded other engine manufacturers.

The key technology upgrade is to fuel injection, with the early unit injection system (HPI) replaced with the high-pressure modular common rail system (MCRS) that is now featured on all of Cummins’ latest generation high horsepower engines.

The 300th upgraded engine, rated at 2700 hp, recently rolled off the production line at the Cummins Master Rebuild Centre in Brisbane, highlighting yet another successful step in the evolution of the QSK60 and why it is the foremost high-horsepower diesel engine globally in mobile mining equipment.

“Reduced fuel consumption and longer life-to-overhaul are keys to lower total cost of ownership, and they were the initial aims behind the engineering of the upgrade program for the QSK60,” says Greg Field, mining business development manager for Cummins Asia Pacific.

“Innovation is at the core of Cummins’ long history, and it has certainly played its part in the QSK60 rebuild options we can offer our mining customers.”

The bottom line is impressive: Diesel particulate emissions are slashed by up to 63% through in-cylinder combustion technology with no aftertreatment. There’s also a plus for maintenance with less soot loading in the oil.

Fuel savings up to 5% are consistently reported in the field for significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction, while life-to-overhaul is extended by 10%, translating to fuel consumption of more than 4.0 million liters before rebuild is required.

Apart from the fuel system upgrade to MCRS, the QSK60 with single-stage turbocharging also features other Cummins innovations in combustion technology that were engineered for Tier 4 Final and Stage V emissions compliance, the most stringent off-highway emission standards in the world.

The rebuild upgrade package can be applied to the two variants of the QSK60 – one with single-stage turbocharging (known as ‘Advantage’) which can be rated from 1785 to 2700 hp, the other with two-stage turbocharging which can be rated at 2700, 2850 or 3000 hp.

The 300th upgraded QSK60 went to Boggabri Coal in the NSW Gunnedah Basin for installation in a Komatsu 930E haul truck. The engine has proved its worth in both coal and iron ore mining in Australia.

yellow QSK60 engine

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

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