The National Academies

ACRP 10-26 [Active]

Airport Microgrid Implementation Toolkit

  Project Data
Funds: $450,000
Staff Responsibility: Theresia H. Schatz
Research Agency: Rocky Mountain Institute
Principal Investigator: Adam Klauber
Effective Date: 6/22/2018
Completion Date: 8/21/2019

Awareness of the vulnerability, fragility, and lack of resiliency of the country’s existing electrical system has increased with the frequency of short-term blackouts or long-term utility outages. Power outages impact airport operations causing flight delays, extended layovers, disruptions in cargo operations, loss of revenue, and airports limited ability to provide emergency support.
One solution to mitigate risks and address negative effects of power outages is for airports to act self-sufficiently in the generation and management of their own power. A microgrid can enable an airport to act independently and have enhanced control and protection from grid instability.  The Department of Energy 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.” University campuses, military bases, entire townships, and even island micro-nations have deployed such projects successfully. Microgrids have the potential to promote clean distributed energy resources; reduce energy costs; build grid reliability; enhance the resiliency of critical facilities; increase energy security; demonstrate new technologies; and create new partnerships and business models among diverse stakeholders.
The critical role and complexity of airports highlight the need to develop specific guidance to evaluate microgrid implementation options for a range of aviation facilities.
The objective of this research is to produce a microgrid evaluation toolkit for airport decision makers and stakeholders which addresses site-specific criteria for airports of all types and sizes.  The toolkit should be a suite of reference materials (i.e., spreadsheet tool, user guide, guidance document) and should include, but not be limited to: 
  • Utility and regulatory considerations:
    • An evaluation for selecting among Regional Transmission Operators;
    • Current and future market characteristics and regulatory environment;
    • Framework for engaging Local Distribution Companies;
    • Potential for community microgrid and macrogrid interface;
    • Renewable portfolio standards and emission restrictions; and
    • Federal agency regulations and requirements (i.e., FAA, EPA).  
  • Physical site and operational considerations:
    • Defining standardized metrics for evaluating energy distribution needs;
    • Synergies for thermal and power loads;
    • Identification of contingency needs and duration;
    • O&M requirements;
    • Energy resource availability, correlated to a range of airport load profiles;
    • Integration of various low- and no-carbon technologies;
    • Land and resource constraints;
    • Technology and controls integration (i.e., building automation, energy management);
    • Physical and cyber security;
    • Risk and resiliency assessment; and
    • Existing assets and future development scenarios. 
  • Commercial, business, and other considerations:
    • Tenant or user agreements (e.g., bond ordinances, leases, etc.);
    • Ownership, operational models, and tax implications (e.g., capital expenditure vs. power purchase agreement); 
    • Prioritization of value (e.g., establishing value of lost load, short-term vs. long-term usage);
    • Engagement or involvement of community stakeholders; and
    • Funding and procurement options.
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research plan should include appropriate interim deliverables, for ACRP approval, that include at minimum:
1. Provide a list of existing and relevant microgrid assessment tools and their applicability to airports and any potential relevant contribution to this toolkit.  
2. In addition to the case examples provided in ACRP Synthesis S01-16, provide additional case studies of existing microgrid applications at airports and other types of transportation facilities (e.g., DOD air station microgrid installations, KSAN), and identify the issues related to the research objectives including utility interconnection details.  The case studies identified should be approved by ACRP in advance.
3. A characterization of types, frequency, and duration of different power outage events at airports due to grid blackouts and severe weather events.
4. An evaluation of how the range of airport load profiles can be met through renewable and non-renewable energy generation.  
5. Development of a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis associated with different microgrid sizes and storage and energy generation technologies. 
6. An interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks; and a detailed outline to include a description of the methodology and a mock-up of the toolkit that will require ACRP approval.  
The research plan should include other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. 
The final deliverables will include:
1. A user-friendly toolkit that includes a variety of tools, processes, and a complementary research results reference document, to produce a high-level, conceptual strategy and implementation plan. This plan will support the development of a business case and define next steps to pursue informed actions for microgrid implementation.
2. A toolkit user guide to include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and a brochure explaining the toolkit to airport stakeholders.
 3. A contractor’s final report that documents the methodology of their entire research effort, including any background information and the research team’s recommendation of research needs and priorities for additional related research. 
4. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.”
STATUS: Rocky Mountain Institute has been selected to conduct the research.

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