EDITOR’S COMMENTS: Welcome to the September/October edition of Distributed Energy magazine.

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In this month’s feature article, Troy Nergaard takes us to Austin, Tex., where power company Austin Energy aims for 65 percent renewable generation by 2027. The project called Austin SHINES received a $4.3 million grant in 2016 from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to establish a working business model for distributed energy resource (DER) optimization for grid, commercial, and residential applications. Fall 2019 is when Austin SHINES expects to deliver its findings as part of the SETO Austin SHINES grant requirements. Stay tuned.

When it comes to defining what a microgrid is there are several different meanings attached to the term. In a broad sense, microgrids help further improve reliability and resiliency of the grid, help communities better prepare for future weather events, and keep the nation moving toward a clean energy future. However, as Gwen Holdmann and Peter Asmus point out in our feature article, the term “microgrid” means different things to different stakeholders depending upon whether one is a customer, solution provider, regulator, utility representative, or academic researcher. This diversity of stakeholders has resulted in a large number of proposed definitions of microgrids, some of which present quite different criteria for what constitutes a microgrid. This condensed white paper helps to clear the air by providing a review of various microgrid and related DER definitions that have evolved over time.

Grand Rapids, Mich., awarded the title of “Best Beer Town” by USA Today, boasts more than 80 breweries along its “Ale Trail.” Thomas Renner takes us on a trip down memory lane, starting with the inception of Michigan’s first brewery in 1836, through prohibition, and up to the post-temperance movement sparked by Founders in 1997. While beer, in my opinion, is delicious, the brewing process puts serious strain on water resources. Believe it or not, energy is a vital ingredient in beer—it heats the brewing water and runs the mill, brew house, chilling, and pumps and packaging lines. Founders is one of the key participants in a new project in Grand Rapids that will use wastewater to deliver renewable energy. The city is building a $57 million biodigester that will convert food waste to energy. Grand Rapids is committed to developing 100 percent renewable energy to power city buildings by 2025. Energy never tasted so good! Click here to learn more.

Right now, we’re in the midst of an energy revolution. U.S. energy storage projects skyrocketed 174 percent from 2013 to 2018. As this sector continues to expand, it pairs well with clean energy sources like solar that are looking for storage options. This leads us to our next project feature on page 22 where Zolaikha Strong sheds light (no pun intended) on the abundant opportunities surrounding the union of solar and storage.

With all of these opportunities come the overwhelming challenges that the industry faces as end-user preferences towards “green” power solutions grow in popularity, technology rapidly evolves, and regulatory schemes become more complex. Laura Fraher points out that the keys to success are risk management and risk allocation amongst project participants. The project contract is integral for establishing the parties’ agreements and expectations regarding risk allocation. Read on to find out more about avoiding conflict and achieving a successful power and energy project.

HVAC retrofits are often disregarded when it comes to improving efficiency of building systems due to supposed high upfront costs. However, Kyle DelPiano profiles a research project designed to obtain a granular understanding of exactly how much energy would be saved through HVAC system enhancement in a commercial building, proving the value of updating mechanical systems. To see how the results from the Astor Place Energy Improvement Project can help you inform decisions about new equipment and the potential for energy savings, click here.

Last but not least, don’t forget to check out this edition’s Reader Profile.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Distributed Energy. Happyreading!

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