How Microgrids Are Changing the Energy Game
Tina Casey interviews Andy Haun, chief technology officer for Schneider Electric, a "legacy energy management company that still has a foothold in fossil fuels," but is also pioneering microgrid technology in places like Montgomery County, Maryland.
In the interview, Haun explains how the company’s cloud-based energy management platform is propelling the company’s renewable energy profile, explains Casey. According to Haun, microgid energy generation and automation go had in hand.
Our EcoStruxure system is tied to an edge controller, which works with the smart devices and facilitates their behavior. The difference is that we augment the edge controller with a cloud environment analytics engine, that gathers data from all the smart products, across the cloud services, and makes bigger, broader, smarter decisions.
Think of it like a symphony. You can have the best musicians, and they all know exactly what to do. But you can’t just say “go play” at them. It will sound awful.
The musicians don’t know what you’re hearing. They need a conductor. The conductor is aware of the audience, and can modulate the sound. So, the edge controller is like the conductor.
Haun also provides additional insight about the Microgrids program under the direction of the Montgomery County Office of Energy and Sustainability. Haun describes Schneider Electric's contribution to this program as "energy as a service."
A third party investor does the microgrid and all the infrastructure, so they own and operate the assets.
Montgomery pays the owner-operator the fee for the electricity, just like a utility. It’s like buying electricity off the meter, plus you get all the other services.
The system also improves over years, through cloud computing, which enables it to constantly adjust itself.
The wide-ranging interview also touches on questions of the role of conventional utilities in a microgrid-enabled energy future and the benefits of microgrids to reliability and resilience.