Texas Tech to Launch Microgrid at GridNEXT Conference


Everyone – from homeowners to businesses to the oil and gas industry – wants to be able to flip a switch and have power.

Finding new ways to deliver that energy more efficiently and reliably is the goal of Texas Tech’s Global Laboratory for Energy and Asset Management and Manufacturing.

“GLEAMM is a Texas Tech project that brings together researchers from different disciplines and research sources under the umbrella of energy,” explained Argenis Bilbao, Senior Project Manager.

Speaking to Reporter-Telegram by phone, Bilbao said GLEAMM has set up a microgrid for this research, which will be presented next week at the GridNEXT Lubbock conference presented by Clean Texas, scheduled for June 1 at The Overton.

“We have strengths that allow us to test and develop new energy-related technologies,” he said. The facility has a new generation solar panel and new wind turbines that can be tested in a real environment. Not to mention fossil fuels, he said he also has a large diesel generator. The facility is connected to the Sandia National Laboratory so that the two entities can conduct research together.

“We have an electronic load that can help put any kind of load into the system to run particular tests,” he said. “Our students can go to the site, develop and enable this asset to operate in the microgrid.”

In developing the microgrid, he said the students designed a computerized controller that allows them to operate the facility via the internet, meaning they don’t have to be physically on site to perform their testing.

The research focuses on integrating new sources into the electricity grid, which Bilbao says has remained static over the past century, largely using coal and natural gas to generate electricity and send it to end users via transmission lines.

“We are looking for new renewable sources to integrate into the existing system without causing disruption,” he said. “How can we make these new sources work well with the traditional source? »

What he brought to the project as senior director is that he doesn’t distinguish between sources, he said.

“People want to use only renewable energy and get rid of oil and gas; I don’t think that’s wise,” he commented. “As human beings, we use as much energy as possible from whatever source. We need oil and gas, we need to develop renewable energy. We will use all the energy we can obtain.

Research is also looking for ways to get more energy from oil and gas, he said, pointing out that gasoline only uses 30% of the energy it contains to drive things forward. a vehicle. Raising that efficiency to 70 or 80 percent would mean fewer emissions and a better environmental footprint, he said.

Reliability is also a key objective, which he says can be achieved through microgrids that could, for example, serve a block of 30 homes. When winter storm Uri hit last year and knocked out power, he said, a microgrid system could have isolated itself from the overall grid and prevented much of the outage.

Microgrids could also help meet the needs of rural communities, which he says is his passion.

“I’m working with a colleague at Tech on an initial study proposal for electrical infrastructure development in rural South West areas,” he said. “The challenge is to change the beliefs of people in these regions. People in general are very resistant to change.

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