G&W Electric microgrid targets early 2022 opening

By Dominic Ellis
In the event of an outage, the microgrid will automatically isolate itself from the central grid to allow G&M Electric's operations to continue

G&W Electric has begun building a microgrid at its headquarters in Bolingbrook, Illinois, with construction expected to be completed early 2022.

In the event of an outage, the microgrid will automatically isolate itself from the central grid to allow the company's operations to continue to run seamlessly.

"After an outage completely shut down our operations for several hours a little over two years ago, G&W Electric recognized the financial benefits of installing a microgrid to deliver uninterrupted premium power to support our critical operations as well as our customers," said John Mueller, chairman and owner of G&W Electric.

"Ultimately, this G&W Electric custom designed, turnkey microgrid solution will serve as an example of how G&W Electric can provide support to other businesses, communities and government entities to produce their own reliable source of power and prevent the costly effects of downtime during a catastrophic outage."

To generate power for the microgrid, G&W Electric will install nearly 6,000 rooftop solar panels. The microgrid will also contain a 1.3 MVA flywheel to provide ride-through power and a 2MW flow battery that can operate at 150 percent of its nominal load. This system will provide the facility with 3MW for nearly two hours.

This microgrid will use software to participate in Frequency Regulation through PJM Interconnection and a regional transmission organisation that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity, PJM Interconnection helps maintain grid stabilisation at 60Hz.

This microgrid can serve as a backup in the event of an outage, and will also cut costs, allowing G&W Electric to be more energy independent and environmentally friendly.

"During peak demands for electricity, G&W Electric's microgrid will participate in ComEd's Voluntary Load Reduction Program and isolate itself from the grid to help reduce ComEd's peak load demand, eliminating its energy dependency during a time when prices increase," said Pat Avery, Vice President of Power Grid Automation for G&W Electric. "Additionally, as one of the largest rooftop solar photovoltaic systems in North America, this will also move G&W Electric toward its carbon-neutral operational goals."

G&W Electric will leverage bifacial solar panels that will generate energy from both sides. Covering more than 370,000 sq. ft, the solar panels will optimise the use of direct sunlight and reflection from the brand new and highly reflective white roof membrane, which will generate 18-20% more energy than a standard monofacial solar panel design.

"Solar energy has become a highly reliable, cost-effective source of energy for the future. Producing one's own energy is the best method to provide premium, uninterrupted power for our critical operations to help avoid unnecessary downtime, rework and scrap leading to unhappy customers," added Avery.

This microgrid represents another large step toward carbon neutrality for G&W Electric, an organisation committed to sustainable business practices. The Bolingbrook facility is also ISO 14001 certified for environmental management, holds a LEED Gold certification and is landfill-free.

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