Collaborative Smart Grid Demonstration Project Breaks Ground in LA

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U.S. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and the Director General Hidekazu Takakura with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) broke ground today for the construction of a two megawatt solar array on the Los Alamos capped landfill.  This is the first phase of the larger New Mexico/Japan Smart Grid Collaborative Demonstration Project in Los Alamos. 

NEDO is teaming with Los Alamos County’s Department of Public Utilities, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the Los Alamos project, and with the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), Mesa Del Sol, and Sandia National Laboratories for a project in Albuquerque.  Both projects will demonstrate the viability of smart grid technology in New Mexico.

NEDO brings 19 Japanese partner companies who specialize in smart grid and renewable energy technologies.  Smart grids are new generation electrical power networks that efficiently control and balance the supply and demand of power through digital information that integrates small and large-scale renewable energy sources.

The Los Alamos Smart Grid Collaborative comprises a power supply microgrid which uses power distribution lines from the 2 megawatt solar power plant on the capped landfill to demonstrate related technologies, overall performance and to minimize the effects of power output fluctuations. The Ground Breaking Ceremony inaugurated this phase of the project.  

Subsequent phases include a seven megawatt hour large scale battery storage system, and the construction of a regular residential home, converted to an energy-efficient “Smart House” which will utilize a home energy management system, solar power, battery, smart meter, as well as other smart technology.    

"We hope the dissemination of the technologies demonstrated here will greatly contribute to sustainable development worldwide through the introduction of reliable renewable energy," stated NEDO Director General Hidekazu Takakura.

Congressman Ben Ray Lujan said, “This partnership between NEDO and Los Alamos is critical if we are going to implement emerging renewable energy technologies on a wide scale that can reduce energy costs, spur economic growth, and create jobs.  With our abundant renewable resources, the Land of Enchantment has always held the promise of becoming a leader in a clean energy economy.  With the progress we are making in Los Alamos, we are a step closer to making that potential a reality.”

The project will also influence utility companies’ operations in the future.  According to Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith of the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities “This is more than a renewable energy project, it is a research project that will assist in setting standards for utility companies across the nation and around the world to ease the addition of renewable energy into electric grids.”

For LANL, "This project enables the laboratory to move toward DOE's goal of a lower carbon footprint, in close collaboration with our partners on the effort. It's a great testbed for demonstrating advanced smart grid models and algorithms that we are developing on site," explained Duncan McBranch, Deputy Principal Associate Director for Science, Technology and Engineering, LANL.

"LANL's current role is to help the county in the design of the electrical connectivity to the grid. We'll help manage the data, and one of the areas for experimentation will be controlling the electrical use, looking at generation with hydrocoupling and others. The Laboratory needs to be able to schedule the power assets of the lab and county to balance the electrical load in an energy efficient manner, and this project will boost that ability." 

Completion of the full Smart Grid Collaborative Demonstration project in Los Alamos is slated for Summer 2012.