Schneider, Duke Energy pioneering microgrid-as-a-service

Apr 19, 2018

Schneider Electric is working with Duke Energy’s REC Solar business unit to deploy an advanced microgrid at the Schneider’s Foxboro, Mass., facility. The microgrid will be the third project to be financed with an innovative Microgrid-as-a-Service (MaaS) business model which was created to offer greater power resilience to industrial and commercial customers without requiring an upfront outlay of capital. The Foxboro facility operates as Schneider Electric’s Process Automation North American Power Generation Center of Excellence.

Many facilities believe a backup generator is sufficient for power resilience, but typical backup generators are tied only to selected loads and don’t allow facilities to remain fully operational. Adding microgrid and automation capabilities can enhance resilience, prevent outages in the event of grid failure, and allow facilities to maintain operations as usual. Commercial and industrial facilities that experience a power outage will suffer loss of productivity. A 30-minute power cut at a U.S. facility reportedly results in an average loss of $15,709 for medium and large industrial clients, and shorter blackouts account for an annual estimated economic loss of between $104 and $164 billion. Thus, even a short duration grid outage can cost companies thousands of hours of productivity.

This announcement comes less than a year after Schneider Electric unveiled the advanced microgrid at its Boston One Campus (BOC) in Andover, Mass. “Our customers demand power resilience from the microgrids we install at their sites, and our facilities rely on the same high standards to keep sites online in the event of a grid outage,” says Mark Feasel, vice president, Utility Segment, Smart Grid & Microgrid, Schneider Electric. “Through our existing partnership with REC Solar and Duke Energy Renewables, we have seen first-hand the benefits of installing advanced microgrids at commercial and industrial facilities through the MaaS business model. This microgrid ensures the building will remain operational during unplanned outages, in addition to optimizing the use of our on-site resources that demonstrate Schneider Electric’s commitment to sustainability.”

As part of the microgrid deployment at the Foxboro facility, Schneider Electric will utilize its own flagship EcoStruxure hybrid distributed control system (DCS). The DCS offers advanced asset management capabilities and enables energy optimization and easy troubleshooting to ensure a resilient, cost-effective and sustainable source of power via the microgrid.

EcoStruxure Profit Advisor and Termis District Energy Optimization Software will also be incorporated into the solution to further optimize the thermal distribution and energy costs. A unique, patented IIoT software that uses analytics to measure and reveal the profitability of an industrial operation in real-time, EcoStruxure Profit Advisor offers insight into how every production asset within the plant contributes to the operational profitability of the company.

As the “Investor Owner” of the project, REC Solar will be leveraged as the capital partner to fund, own, and operate the microgrid assets. Upon its completion by the end of the year, the Foxboro microgrid will mark the third MaaS project that Schneider Electric has completed with the REC Solar and Duke Energy Renewables team.

“Microgrid-as-a-Service makes microgrids accessible to a wider variety of customers and has prompted innovation within the industry,” says Chris Hiller, lead solution architect, REC Solar. “By partnering with Schneider Electric, we have helped customers integrate microgrids with no upfront capital, while helping companies achieve more efficient and sustainable energy consumption.”