S&T’s Solar Village to House Microgrid Project

There’s a new grid on the block at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Missouri University of S&T students and researchers are planning to house an experimental microgrid at a complex of four solar-powered homes. Made of solar panels, the microgrid will manage and store renewable energy, according to the university’s website. “Distributed power generation is one of the key elements of a microgrid,” says Mehdi Ferdowsi, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T. “It’s called a microgrid because it’s less dependent on the utility power grid.”

The solar homes were all built by Missouri S&T students and were past entries into the Solar Decathlon design competition. Known as “solar village,” the homes are also student residences. Ferdowsi believes this makes solar village an ideal testing location for the microgrid technology.

“We hope to demonstrate that the microgrid technology is expandable to many, based on these four houses,” he says. Ferdowsi believes the students that currently live in these houses will also demonstrate the human aspect of the project or “how people interact with a new system of energy management.”

Faculty, alumni, and students at Missouri University believe there’s a lot of potential in the microgrid technology project. Utility companies could rent out renewable energy generators to subdivisions and create a new model for selling electricity. There are also plans to expand the microgrid experiment to include wind turbines, generators, electric vehicles, and an electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Dubbed “one of the most innovative energy-saving programs on a college campus,” Missouri S&T’s solar village helped gain the university selection as a finalist for the 2013 Climate Leadership Awards. Missouri S&T’s geothermal energy project is also associated with the selection.

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