November 2, 2018

Discovering the Future in Energy at M-WERC Microgrids Conference

Faith Technologies was proud to co-sponsor and host the recent Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) 3rd Annual Microgrids Conference, at Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton, Wisconsin. With well over a millennium of experience in the room ranging from recent graduates to seasoned veterans, this was a great blend of environment, content, and participants.

 

Bubolz Nature Preserve was the perfect setting for this conference, and you might say it’s the perfect setting for a microgrid. Bubolz sees approximately 60,000 visitors per year, enjoying the hiking trails, and educational programs, along with those attending special events such as weddings. The microgrid at Bubolz is a great example of ‘many in one’ – part research & development, part public/private partnership, part education tool, and part demonstration project. It is also a great example of the spirit of Faith Technologies. Since its inception in 1972, Faith has been an energy company. With our advances in energy solutions, we’re not just the company who helps get power to where people need it, but we help them to use it better, as a true solutions provider. We use energy as a framework for asking great questions to help clients do what they do, better – however they define better.

Not only do microgrids speak to the core mission of a conservation organization, but at Bubolz, we made it real to people. Visitors drive in and immediately see the solar fields. In the Immersion Center they see how the solar fields are powering the entire nature center, or how the battery that was charged keeps the lights on during cloudy days or in the evenings. Rather than viewing a PowerPoint, visitors to Bubolz can see, touch, and feel the renewable power in action.

M-WERC was founded to bring together practitioners and people who have an interest in advancing the state of the energy environment through technology, controls and research. The recent event hosted participants from across the energy spectrum, including a speaker who introduced power to hospital campuses in Africa, where there is no grid, and others in the healthcare industry, where reliable power is critical. We had a number of participants from academia, where they’re pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in energy. Attendees from utilities were there to discuss the many ways that renewable power can help a utility. If you have a substation to serve a community, if the community outgrows that substation, the utility has an obligation to make sure they can provide enough power to the community, and do so economically. Among the attendees, we had more than a millennia of experience in the room, with an average of 27.5 years – ranging from new grads, to those with more than 40 years in the energy industry – that was truly part of the ‘special sauce’ of this event.

The conference featured a series of three panels, with experts from throughout the industry. In them, attendees and panelists reviewed these points:

  • Why would an organization consider renewable power or a microgrid? This panel consisted of current end-users who discussed the drivers, motivations and results of their renewable energy initiatives, in general and from the perspectives of healthcare, university, public sector and industry.
  • How to move from concept to implementation, removing barriers to getting things done well. This session discussed business models, financing, resources through the Office of Energy Innovation, and project development/management approaches.
  • What are the technologies and strategies in the new energy landscape? There are significant improvements, as well as technologies that simply weren’t available even five years ago. Participants in this group included our Bubolz microgrid partners, Altergy, Schneider Electric and Kohler Company.

Following the presentations, attendees were able to tour the nature preserve and see the components and workings of the microgrid, which was called at Microgrid Knowledge 2018 the “most innovative microgrid in the Midwest.” It was also recognized with Power Magazine’s first Distributed Energy award, due to its combination of several technologies, including solar, a fuel cell, microturbine, battery storage system, and natural gas generator. It also takes advantage of cloud-connected optimization, allowing the system to create different permutations to increase the efficiency of the energy resources available at any given time.

At Faith Technologies, we know that practice doesn’t just make perfect, practice makes better. I welcome your inquiries to learn more about Faith Technologies, our position in the energy landscape, and how we help clients do better at what they do.