On the outside, Missouri S&T’s Solar Village looks like a simple neighborhood of houses with solar panels on their roofs. However, these photovoltaic arrays are part of a complex system of energy sharing based on distributed power generation. Housing all the essential machinery is the village’s microgrid, a localized source of electricity generation.
The microgrid manages and stores renewable energy for the four student-built solar houses. The unit holds all the necessary components, including two lithium battery racks for energy storage, a power converter, and software and hardware for its intelligence system.
More than a power source, the microgrid is also a research instrument. Missouri S&T faculty and students, along with representatives from utility companies, the Army Corps of Engineers and several Missouri businesses will use it to analyze the abilities of small-scale microgrids and their potential for more widespread use in the future.
Students living in the solar houses can monitor the results of the power transfers and are a practical real-world demonstration of how people will interact with the new energy management system.
The microgrid project was coordinated through Missouri S&T’s office of sustainable energy and environmental engagement (OSE3). OSE3 develops, leads and promotes campus sustainability initiatives and is responsible for management of the Solar Village, the E3 Commons and more.