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: 3/15/2020

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 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 completed the draft final deliverables under panel review. 

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