California Energy Commission awards Bosch-led team $2.8 million for micro-grid demonstration

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The California Energy Commission has announced a proposed award to Robert Bosch LLC for $2,817,566 to demonstrate a high-penetration, renewable-based micro-grid.

Bosch will use the award to demonstrate the effectiveness of the group’s Direct-Current Building-Scale Microgrid Platform in an American Honda Motor Company parts distribution center. Bosch and its partners will provided an additional $1.8 million in in-kind and matching funds to assist in the development, planning and execution of the project.

Bosch said the project was designed to illustrate the viability and benefits of a commercial-scale DC building grid compared with conventional AC-based grid connected solar PV systems or micro-grids. Its DC micro-grid enables a simpler way to achieve zero-net-energy requirements in commercial buildings, according to the company.

Bosch expects its DC micro-grid project to provide a low-cost, highly energy-efficient solution in which the DC micro-grid connects rooftop solar PV arrays to energy-efficient DC lighting, DC ventilation and DC energy storage systems on a 380-volt DC bus to form a DC building grid, allowing commercial buildings to become zero-net-energy users in a cost-effective manner.

“We are confident the Bosch DC micro-grid system will contribute to California’s carbon reduction and energy efficiency goals by increasing the reliability and utilization of distributed renewable energy and improving the energy efficiency of state-of-the-art technologies – such as LED lighting paired with advanced lighting controls, motors with variable frequency drives and energy storage systems – by operating them on DC power,” said Oliver Steinig, vice president of business development at Robert Bosch. “This will reduce installation costs and lower operating costs, while increasing reliability and quality of the power provided to building loads.”

The project will also demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of a commercial-scale DC building grid that integrates multiple advanced technologies to provide reliable power to the loads on the DC grid, resilience during grid outages, increased energy efficiencies and renewable energy utilization, the group added.

Once the project is installed and commissioned, performance data will be collected to examine cost savings, energy efficiency gains and the capabilities of the advanced micro-grid energy management system.

“The project will directly enhance the technical understanding of how to integrate and optimize distributed renewable energy generation into the California distribution infrastructure, pave the way for introduction and large-scale adoption of cost-effective and energy-efficient DC power distribution architectures, and establish a complete supply chain for system integration through various partnerships,” Bosch said.

Bosch is partnering on the endeavor with Navigant Consulting and the California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California, Davis, as well as with a number of California-based companies, including Maxwell Technologies and Imergy Power Systems. The partnerships bring diverse technical experts with experience in piloting and delivering technologies that can be incorporated into advanced micro-grids to participate in the project, Bosch said. The company and its partners have provided $1,790,095 in in-kind and matching funds to the project.

Bosch expects to complete the project by February 2018.