Load Bank Utilization in Microgrid Planning

Microgrids represent small networks of electricity users that generate and distribute a local power supply. They usually attach to a centralized national grid, but can also operate as an independent island separate from the central power grid. Breaking away from the national grid and operating on its own is of particular importance during power outages.

A microgrid system consists of several components, including power generation sources, local loads, electrical switching gear, and possibly inverters and energy storage. Microgrids generate power from sources such as distributed generators, batteries, and renewable resources like solar panels and wind turbines.

Microgrid operators use load banks to test their operation before implementation and as part of ongoing preventative maintenance. Microgrid testing with load banks helps uncover problems before you begin live operation and promotes a safe and stable environment.

The Value of Load Bank Testing in Microgrids

When you deploy load banks for load testing your microgrid, you can save time, reduce cost, and improve safety:

  • An integrated system test with all gensets, turbines, and switchgear, saving you money by reducing the likelihood of conducting additional tests.
  • Testing specific load profiles for emergency response generators saves money by ensuring backup power is “tuned” for the planned activation profile. It enhances safety by confirming emergency systems remain operational under no-notice circumstances.
  • Testing VAR sharing and synchronization saves money by effectively taking on a true system load and avoiding unplanned outages.
  • Turbine factory witness testing saves time by uncovering potential fit and performance issues before shipment to the job site. It also eliminates construction delays because of modifications and field corrections not discovered earlier. Witness testing saves money by ensuring full contract performance. It improves safety by conducting a live test in a controlled environment instead of the customer site.
  • A start time response and voltage response within parameters save money by allowing the time needed to synchronize and energize the system, so it meets regulatory and customer requirements.

Critical Planning Factors in Microgrid Load Testing

To recognize the potential value delivered, how should you plan for testing your microgrid with load banks? What load bank equipment and provider would best match your requirements?

Answering these questions involves careful analysis and planning. Conducting these activities well in advance of your microgrid going on-line helps you avoid dealing with costly and time-consuming issues.

Specific areas to consider during the planning process include the:

  • Configuration of your microgrid
  • Type of power source
  • Power factor expected during system operation
  • Number of generation sources that will synchronize on the same system
  • Frequency of energizing generation assets for temporary operation during system checks
  • Degree of which you have commissioned the control system for reliable islanded operations
  • Potential size and rate of load change during islanded operations
  • Effect of size and rate load changes on generation sources
  • Response parameters required during load changes or transfers
  • Evaluation of medium voltage load banks to address microgrid load testing requirements
  • Safety protocols required to reduce harm to personnel or damage to equipment during testing

When you begin planning your microgrid testing project, evaluate potential load bank providers on a broad range of qualifications, including:

  • Testing and commissioning experience with microgrids
  • Experience testing all microgrid components, including generation, storage, controls, and distribution
  • A comprehensive inventory of load banks
  • Load banks that can test every microgrid element at the needed voltages and conditions
  • The necessary geographic coverage to support microgrid operations
  • Trained technicians available at the job site
  • A full understanding of the IEEE 1547 interconnection requirements
  • A commitment to stay current with evolving interconnection standards
  • The ability to implement safety protocols into the entire commissioning process

Other than load banks, no viable substitute exists for testing microgrid technology at full power and actual load levels before implementation. Load banks reduce deployment risk and help optimize the performance of microgrid operations.

Download eBook for More Information

For a more detailed discussion on load banks and microgrids, download ComRent’s latest eBook titled “Choosing a Load Bank for Microgrid Testing.” This resource will discuss the phenomenal growth of microgrids in the U.S., essential components of a microgrid, why you should load test microgrids, critical questions to answer before deploying load banks for microgrid testing, and what to look for in a load bank provider.

ComRent’s team of load bank experts helps ensure the success of your microgrid testing project. We offer a complimentary consultation to review your requirements and propose the right load bank solution for your application. Contact us today online or at 888-881-7118 for more information on load banks and microgrid testing.

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