A groundbreaking microgrid project in Maryland is poised to set new standards for integrated off-grid systems, showcasing how they can generate power for commercial and industrial installations while producing hydrogen for transportation vehicles.
The project, led by AlphaStruxure, a joint venture of Schneider Electric and Carlyle, will establish a microgrid at Montgomery County’s Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operation Center (EMTOC), powered by solar and battery energy storage. With its unique features and sustainable approach, this initiative aims to revolutionize the clean energy landscape and serve as a model for communities nationwide.
Maryland’s Clean Energy Future
The microgrid project aligns with Maryland’s commitment to clean energy and resilience. Governor Wes Moore emphasized the state’s dedication to solidifying its clean energy future, and the project in Montgomery County exemplifies the transformative efforts being made. By implementing innovative energy solutions, Maryland aims to become a national leader in sustainable infrastructure and transportation.
Power of Integration
The microgrid will be the first transit bus depot on the U.S. East Coast to incorporate green hydrogen production, positioning it as the largest self-sustaining bus depot in the nation. With a capacity of 7 MW, the microgrid will harness solar and battery energy storage to generate more than 5 MW of electricity. The integration of rooftop and canopy solar arrays, battery storage, and existing backup generation will enable the microgrid to operate indefinitely in islanded mode, ensuring uninterrupted power supply during outages.
Enhancing Resilience and Carbon Neutrality
The primary goal of the microgrid is to enhance resilience and maximize the utilization of distributed energy resources (DERs). By leveraging advanced software tools, IoT-connected hardware, and AlphaStruxure’s Integrate digital platform, the microgrid will optimize on-site energy and charging infrastructure, ensuring reliable power for Montgomery County’s transit system. The microgrid’s ability to operate independently during emergencies and extended grid downtime will strengthen the county’s transit services while contributing to its ambitious climate action plan of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2035.
Green Hydrogen Production and Fuel Cell Buses
One of the standout features of the microgrid is the on-site green hydrogen production. By utilizing solar power, the microgrid will produce hydrogen that will fuel a mixed fleet of battery electric and fuel cell buses. The inclusion of fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) enables greater travel range compared to battery-powered vehicles, allowing for longer bus routes within the county’s system. FCEBs, which emit only water, are zero-emission vehicles powered by hydrogen and oxygen. The microgrid’s integration of hydrogen production and charging capability will establish a resilient power supply for the buses, supporting Montgomery County’s commitment to sustainable transportation.
Energy as a Service (EaaS) Model
AlphaStruxure’s EaaS business model provides the necessary financing for the microgrid project, covering design, construction, and long-term operations and maintenance. This approach eliminates the need for upfront capital expenditure from Montgomery County, ensuring predictable operating expenses and guaranteed performance. By embracing the EaaS model, the county demonstrates its forward-thinking approach and commitment to sustainable, resilient infrastructure.
Maryland’s microgrid project in Montgomery County signifies a major step forward in the integration of off-grid power generation and hydrogen fueling for transportation. With its cutting-edge technology, resilience, and commitment to sustainability, the microgrid sets a new benchmark for public transit infrastructure. By showcasing the possibilities of clean energy and resilient microgrids, this project will not only benefit the local community but also inspire similar initiatives across the nation.