The National Academies

ACRP Synthesis 11-03/Topic S01-16 [Active (Synthesis)]

Microgrids and their Application for Airports and Public Transit
[ ACRP 11-03 (Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 2/1/2017 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Gail R. Staba
Research Agency: Arup
Principal Investigator: Ruby Heard
Effective Date: 6/6/2017
Fiscal Year: 2017

Final Scope

The US Department of Energy (DOE) defines a microgrid as “a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that act as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid.” More advanced microgrids can run parallel with and provide services to the electrical grid. Microgrids are independent electrical distribution systems that include generation such as solar, combined heat and power (CHP), wind, fuel cells, and storage and control. Microgrids can serve a variety of purposes: operational resilience, sustainability, cost savings, carbon savings, and energy reliability and efficiency. Microgrids are becoming increasingly relevant because technology costs are decreasing, capabilities are improving, primary fuel sources are less expensive, and energy consumers and utility supplier models have changed. Extreme weather events, cyber-attacks, other physical attacks, and cost management are concerns that have led critical facility operators to consider microgrids. Microgrids can be particularly important for preserving functionality of critical societal uses such as public safety facilities, hospitals, communication centers, and transportation systems.

Airports and public transit are critical facilities and major energy users requiring reliable and resilient power. The opportunity presented by microgrids has gained prominence in recent years to diversify energy infrastructure and address natural and manmade threats. In September 2011, the southwestern U.S. experienced a blackout which was the largest such event in California’s history affecting 6 million people. San Diego, the center of the blackout, was without power for a 12-hour period. As a result of the vulnerability highlighted by the blackout the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has invested in a 12kV microgrid system at San Diego International Airport. In 2012, NJ TRANSIT experienced prolonged power outages resulting from Superstorm Sandy and is advancing the construction of NJ TRANSITGRID. NJ TRANSIT will construct a first-of-its-kind electrical microgrid capable of supplying highly reliable power during storms or other times when the centralized power grid is compromised.

This synthesis report seeks to compile microgrid information and experience on microgrids to airports and transit agencies in order to benefit operations, and provide information to those who may consider establishing a microgrid. The audience for this report includes energy managers, engineers and planners, and decision makers.

Through literature review and interview of owners, operators and utilities, the researcher would locate, assemble and document in a concise report existing information on microgrids in order to inform airport and public transit operators. At minimum, the report should cover:

• Background and evolution of microgrid technology
• Funding mechanisms
• Costs including capital and O&M
• Benefits, synergies and tradeoffs; prioritizing to meet competing goals
• Types of effective delivery or ownership models
• O&M considerations
• Opportunities and challenges including but not limited to technical, financial, regulatory
• Examples of experience with implementing incremental steps toward full advanced microgrids
• Effective practices and paths forward
• Gaps in methodologies and methods
• Appendices that include examples of evaluation and modeling tools

Partial Information Sources

Asmus, Peter. 2014. Alaska Leads the World in Microgrid Deployments. Navigant Research. https://www.navigantresearch.com/blog/alaska-leads-the-world-in-microgrid-deployments

Miles, S., H. Gallagher, and C. Huxford. 2012. Quick Response Research on the September 8, 2011 San Diego Blackout. Resilience Institute, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University.

Barrett, Stephen, et al. ACRP Report 108: Guidebook for Energy Facilities Compatibility with Airports and Airspace. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington D.C., 2014.

Barrett, Stephen, et al. ACRP Report 151: Developing the Business Case for Renewable Energy at Airports. Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Washington D.C., 2016.
Smith, Merrill A. and Dan T. Ton. Key Connections. IEEE Power and Energy Magazine. July/August 2013.

Ton, Dan T., and Merrill A. Smith. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Microgrid Initiative. Published in the Electricity Journal. October 2012. Vol. 25, Issue 8.

Additional literature sources will be provided. 

Topic Panel
Cullen Choi, Denver International Airport
Eric R. Daleo, NJ Transit Corp
Casey Lamont, City of Burlington Electric Department
Brendan J. Reed, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
John A. Bodner, Federal Transit Administration
Patrick W. Magnotta, Federal Aviation Administration
Abraham EllisSandia National Laboratories
Rima Kasia Oueid, U.S. Department of Energy
Stephen J. Andrle, Transportation Research Board

Gail R. Staba
phone: 202/334-2442

First meeting: May 2, 2017, Irvine, CA
Teleconference: June 6, 2017, 4:30 pm EDT
Second meeting: November 3, 2017, Washington, DC


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