Microgrid Management System Components

We design and manufacture the 3 components required to manage a microgrid:

Energy Management Software

Software for energy management logic, communications, and user interface

Power Electronics Hardware

DC-DC converter and inverter hardware for managing any kind and any number of sources and loads

Energy Storage

Battery Energy Storage can utilize any battery chemistry, or combinations of chemistries, new or used

 

Energy Management Software

Energy management software provides the program logic, communications, and human interface required to manage and optimize energy. Indie Power Systems developed all of the energy management software and firmware internally so that modular components can be scalable and upgradable. Communications and control can also operate seamlessly between Indie Power Systems components and third party systems to the extent allowed by the third party system.

Cost reduction software for end-users such as demand charge reduction and time-of-day load shifting is available. In addition, power quality software assists with power smoothing, power continuity, and Power Factor Correction (PFC).

Software can also enable ancillary services for electric utilities (the Grid) such as demand reduction as well as frequency and voltage regulation.

Software-only Building Energy Management

Software-only systems are limited in function as they can only turn things on and off. But using rules to turn things on and off can reduce demand charges by restricting the time when loads can be turned on (such as HVAC) and by using a building's thermal mass to pre-chill or pre-heat within tolerable temperature ranges at times of lower electric rates. Energy storage is required for advanced functionality. It has been said that a Microgrid without energy storage is like a computer without a hard drive – very limited.

Storage-enabled Building Energy Management

With energy storage, additional power can be injected when demand spikes, such as when motors or lights turn on. This ability increases a business's flexibility in operations while having the potential to reduce demand charges even further than software-only systems. Having power electronics hardware and software controls in addition to energy storage also allows a business to smooth power and improve power quality, including the ability to have uninterrupted power.

Alternative Energy Optimization

Energy management software can also select which energy sources to utilize and when to utilize them. Solar (PV), wind, fuel cells, turbines, and other alternative energy sources can be managed and optimized. Similarly, energy management software can make load and energy storage decisions that can improve operations while also lowering the overall cost of electric utility bills. With Indie Power Systems' software, all sources of energy are optimized with the goal of reducing electricity cost while supporting operations with improved power quality.

Ancillary Services Provided to the Grid

Electric utility end-users can utilize Microgrid systems equipped with the proper hardware and software to provide ancillary services. The electric utility pays for these services allowing the end-user to earn additional revenue. Demand reduction programs offered by many utilities pay a "retainer" as well as a "per use" fee to the end-user who participates in these programs. Frequency and voltage regulation are also services that the end user can provide to the utility.

Electric Utilities can also install Microgrids at the "edge of the Grid" such as between sub-stations and end-users. These Microgrid systems can provide peak load shaving and phase balancing in addition to voltage and frequency regulation.

 

Power Electronics Hardware

Power electronics hardware consists primarily of DC-DC converters and Inverters. All electrical energy requires power electronics to regulate its flow. That flow consists of the direction of the flow as well as the voltage and current. For AC (Alternating Current) the frequency must be regulated as well. Power electronics are used to convert one DC (Direct Current) power to another such as when solar panel output is optimized or when batteries are charged or discharged. Power electronics are also used to convert DC power to AC (Alternating Current) and vice versa.

All of Indie Power Systems' power electronics hardware modules have been designed and built in-house to work seamlessly together. These modules have also been designed to be scalable. For example, a 25kW module can operate in parallel with another module to manage 50kW. Four modules in parallel could manage 100kW and that scaling can continue to several hundred kilowatts.

Solar DC-DC Converters

Solar panels, also known as PV (PhotoVoltaic), require power electronics to control and maximize output. Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) for PV is a method of adjusting the DC power draw to target the highest output possible. MPPT is designed into the converter's firmware and manages the PV power by sampling different current draws until power output deceases. Pulling too many amps will drop the PV output voltage to a point where power output is less. Continuous sampling is required because of changing potential soar output. For example, PV will generally have a lower power early morning than at noon. Clouds also change the maximum power potential. Indie Power Systems' modular PV converters can optimize the output of any number or panels or arrays of panels.

Battery and other DC-DC Controllers

Batteries and other DC sources require DC-DC converters to manage power. Indie Power Systems' modular DC-DC power controller hardware is the most advanced in the industry. This technology can manage multiple battery packs, or arrays of packs, all within a single energy storage system. Indie Power Systems introduced the first Hybrid Energy Storage System (HESS) and is the first to integrate used (secondary-use) batteries into a commercial energy storage system. Indie Power Systems created the Redundant Array of Inexpensive Batteries (RAIB™) using Indie Power Systems' modular battery controllers, our proprietary Battery Management System (BMS) and secondary-use batteries.

Energy storage is measured in both power (kW) and in time (kWh). Indie Power Systems' modular, scalable, and upgradable design can accommodate more power and/or more storage time by adding any required power management modules and a software upgrade.

AC Input Controllers

Wind energy, water turbines, and generators all generally have an AC output that requires power electronics to control. Each of these sources will have a unique optimum power level and Indie Power Systems' modular AC controllers can target the optimum power output of each. Our AC input controllers utilize Power Factor Correction (PFC) that can decrease the stress on the generating system.

Inverters

Inverters take a DC current and convert it into Alternating Current (AC). There are regulatory standards for both voltage and frequency that must be met in order to supply energy onto the Grid. Indie Power Systems' modular inverter technology can deliver 1, 2, or 3 phase AC power.

Indie Power Systems also can provide a unique ancillary service to electric utilities by managing each phase completely independently and balancing phases. Each modular inverter can also provide voltage and frequency regulation for the Grid.

 

Energy Storage

Energy storage can take many forms, including pumped hydro, flywheels, and batteries. If it can be controlled, Indie Power Systems’ energy storage system can manage it. Because the most prevalent method of energy storage today is in batteries, Indie Power Systems focuses on optimizing battery energy storage. The Multi-Flex™ can be configured with: 1) battery energy storage within the cabinet, 2) external battery storage, or 3) a combination of internal and external battery storage.

Indie Power Systems' energy storage is battery agnostic and can integrate any battery chemistry, or any combinations of chemistries. Indie Power Systems leads the industry in battery energy storage with its Redundant Array of Inexpensive Batteries (RAIB™) technology. This technology allow the blending of multiple battery chemistries, new and/or used, into what is now referred to as a Hybrid Energy Storage System (HESS). Indie Power Systems also designs and build custom Battery Management Systems (BMS).

Battery Management Systems (BMS)

Indie Power Systems has developed custom BMS for different chemistries. that include voltage, current, and temperature monitoring. Indie Power Systems holds multiple patents on battery Management including active cell or module balancing.

Advanced Battery Energy Storage

Indie Power Systems offers the ability to manage multiple battery packs or arrays of packs. With this capability comes the ability to utilize different battery chemistries. For example, a Li-ion battery pack could be utilized for fast reaction times where high power is required and Lead-Acid utilized for lower-power and lower cost energy storage. This configuration can also allow for maintenance on one battery pack (or array of packs) while the other pack or arrays remain in operation.

Secondary-Use Battery Energy Storage

Indie Power Systems developed the first commercial application for the integration of used (secondary-use) batteries in an energy storage system. In that system, multiple packs of used Lead-Acid batteries were utilized in addition to a new OEM (third-party) Li-ion pack. The latest project with secondary-use batteries involved the integration of 208 used Camry Hybrid Electric Vehicle battery packs configured into 4 arrays of 52 battery packs. Each of the 4 arrays have different capacities and are managed uniquely.