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New Net-Zero Microgrid Program to Research Carbon-Free Clean Energy Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity has financially supported Idaho National Laboratory for launching a new Net-Zero Microgrid (NZM) program.

New Net-Zero Microgrid Program to Research Carbon-Free Clean Energy Solutions, solar cell

Image Credit: Idaho National Laboratory.

The aim of this program will be to study carbon-free solutions that provide improved resilience to crucial infrastructure, which support the United States and the entire world, including underserved communities.

Microgrids are a set of electricity generators that can manage themselves without being connected to the grid. If they are connected to the grid, they can support themselves as well as the distribution and transmission systems.

Tim McJunkin, Distinguished Researcher, Power and Energy Systems Department, Idaho National Laboratory

This implies they can offer grid services to both larger power authorities and local utilities.

Microgrids are highly reliable as a source of uninterrupted power for public services such as health care, transportation, and emergency response centers. A few among them have a decreased carbon footprint, thus helping to realize U.S. emission goals and a net-zero carbon economy.

As part of the Net-Zero Microgrid program, cross-cutting studies will be performed to expedite the elimination of carbon-emitting technologies. Research and development activities will be organized across various energy resources.

For instance, the program utilizes the platforms and expertise available in INL’s Energy Systems Laboratory and its nuclear energy research testbeds. This includes the Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) research microreactor, which is financed under the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

Nuclear, renewables and energy storage can potentially have a large advantage over typical diesel or natural gas microgrids. Decreasing or removing the fuel supply chains can reduce potential impacts and costs for remote applications and improve availability in cases where pipelines or supply systems could be disrupted by weather, disasters or cyberattacks.

Kurt Myers, Senior Microgrid Researcher, Idaho National Laboratory

A sustainable energy future relies on the potential to exploit carbon-free energy sources and deliver power extracted from these sources—dependably and economically—wherever and whenever required.

INL is dedicated to showing the viability of microgrids that will decrease greenhouse gas emissions from more than 80% in 2020 to lower than 50% within the next four years. A combination of renewable energy sources along with small reactors, hydrogen fuel cells, and energy storage will enable these goals to be achieved.

Today microgrids provide stable and high-quality power to critical military and community needs. But they almost all use conventional fossil energy generators. This program will address roadblocks to moving away from the fossil-fuel-based option.

Tim McJunkin, Distinguished Researcher, Power and Energy Systems Department, Idaho National Laboratory

Source: https://inl.gov/

Megan Craig

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Megan Craig

Megan graduated from The University of Manchester with a B.Sc. in Genetics, and decided to pursue an M.Sc. in Science and Health Communication due to her passion for combining science with content creation. As part of her studies, Megan partnered with Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre as a Digital Marketing Assistant, producing content and updating sections of their website. In her spare time, she loves to travel, exploring each location's culture and history - including the local cuisine. Her other interests include embroidery, reading fiction, and practicing her Japanese language skills.

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