7 July 2009
Drexel works its own smart grid system
Drexel University will deploy Viridity's VPower System energy monitoring system on its main campus, located in Philadelphia’s University City District.
The goal is for the system to provide real-time measurements of University power usage and eventually allow the University to sell energy back to the larger regional grid, said Interim University President C.R. “Chuck” Pennoni.
Drexel will install the system on a portion of its 65-acre campus to demonstrate how an organization can manage its energy costs and environmental impact with real-time electric prices. Based on the real-time pricing technology, the system will allow the University to purchase power at times of the day when demand is low and sell excess power back to the larger power grid.
The technology, known as “virtual generation,” allows customers to become independent energy sources by selling excess power back to the public grid. In addition, the system will make portions of the Drexel campus independent from the larger grid, limiting the impact of the kind of cascade outages seen in 2003.
“Drexel has a long-standing commitment to apply the University’s technical and research capabilities to solving challenges in our communities. One of the greatest challenges we face today is the ability to meet current and future power demand through investment in clean and distributed energy resources,” Pennoni said.
The Viridity system will put the University among a small group of institutions adopting “smart grid” technology. These technologies allow independence from the national grid and significantly reduce energy waste by using computer monitoring to allocate energy resources.
“One of the great transformational goals of what is called the smart grid is the ability to use advanced communications and computing capabilities to integrate distributed energy resources, both generation and demand control, into the power grid as reliable and controllable sources of power,” said Audrey Zibelman, chief executive of Conshohocken, Penn.-based Viridity Energy.
The Power Resources Department at Drexel’s College of Engineering will use the campus smart grid as a working laboratory to advance its study of urban power systems. The College of Engineering is currently studying ways organizations can effectively use solar, storage, and wind resources in urban environments to economically and reliably meet power needs.
For related information, go to www.isa.org/networks.