Jun 29, 2022

GridBlock - How microgrid networks can underpin sustainable energy infrastructure


The traditional “grid” is becoming more volatile: EV and data center energy loads, and extreme weather events are driving more frequent disruptions. Microgrids are able to compensate for traditional grid failures but have had their own technical complexities. GridBlock solves those complexities. However, these complexities can only be solved in part by federally funded initiatives, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, signed into law by President Joe Biden to allow for technologies like EV charging stations and microgrids to become more accessible to businesses and educational institutions.

The GridBlock energy router, the world’s first plug-and-play energy router, has been scaling its technology to 1 GW worldwide, in response to new market demand for energy resilience. With support from Dr. Deepak Divan at the Center for Distributed Energy at Georgia Tech, GridBlock’s technology dramatically simplifies the way that microgrids are built.

According to the article, “Financing Microgrids in the Federal Sector,” the document underlines the importance of microgrids in today’s society, especially in regards to the need for sustainable infrastructure:

“Implementing a microgrid in a comprehensive effort that also includes energy efficiency can provide an important savings component,'' it states, “while reducing power requirements for critical loads, thus reducing the cost of the microgrid and associated distributed energy resources (DER).”

Using plug-and-play modular elements that integrate DC solar, wind energy and battery storage to the AC medium voltage grid through a software router, GridBlock eliminates unnecessary hardware redundancies and reduces reliance on fossil fuel-powered generators. This in turn helps drive down the cost of maintenance for microgrids, so that they are feasible for a wider range of applications where reliability of supply is paramount, such as mission-critical data centers, EV fast-charging for large commercial vehicles and back-up generator power plants for hospitals and key utilities.

Mickael Mauger, Director of Engineering at GridBlock, compares the GridBlock router to the first data router that revolutionized internet communication:

“Our router chops energy from AC and DC sources into packets that can be recombined.We don’t need inverters for DC and AC — it’s all combined in one.”

The partnership with Georgia Tech and involvement of Dr. Divan in this project speaks to the importance of microgrids and why funding these projects is vital to the development of this type of infrastructure.

When infrastructure bills such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, enacted by President Biden, become law this makes infrastructure like microgrids “eligible for funding within programs to improve transmission, electrify transportation and improve rural and remote areas of the US.” This allows more than $65 billion for programs to take advantage of technologies like microgrids to improve their organizations and cut the costs of heating and cooling their businesses almost by half, and $7.5 billion to build national networks of EV chargers.

Federal legislation, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, allows microgrids to become more accessible to not only businesses, but educational institutions. Colleges and universities use microgrids to supply their campuses with heating, cooling, and power supply for their facilities.

GridBlock and other Endeavour companies work closely with educational institutions and academics to develop technologies that enable facilities to be powered by the latest and most sustainable technologies. For more information on microgrid funding and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, check out Microgrid Knowledge’s article here. To learn more about the importance of microgrids on college campuses, check out another one of their articles here.