Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Schneider helps Ameren integrate energy resources

Steve Rogerson
August 17, 2017

Ameren’s recently completed utility-scale microgrid in Champaign, Illinois, is using software from Schneider Electric to manage its integration of distributed energy resources (DER), including a mix of solar, wind, natural gas generation and battery storage.
Decentralisation, decarbonisation and digitisation have changed the dynamics of energy generation for the grid and spurred growth in DER use. In this new energy landscape, it is increasingly complex to manage the rapidly expanding use of DER.
EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor from French company Schneider is a cloud-based, demand-side energy management software platform that simplifies the integration of DER and allows facility managers and microgrid operators to collect, forecast and optimise automatically the operation of DER using predictive algorithms.
"By deploying EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor as part of its microgrid, Ameren's facility is building a smarter, cleaner energy infrastructure and maximising the use of its distributed resources," said Phillip Barton, director of Schneider Electric's microgrid competency centre. "The software-as-a-service platform provides them with an innovative and easy-to-use tool to better manage the production and consumption of its renewable energy and control energy spend with advanced predictive and learning algorithms."
As part of Ameren's microgrid, it optimises all its DER, while offering tariff management, demand response requests, peak shaving, CO2 tracking and storm hardening services. The platform is said to enhance performance, optimise energy use and support energy security, providing critical power to Ameren's network of users.
The platform includes onsite hardware for secure cyber communications and algorithms for up to two days of DER optimisation with offline capabilities. It communicates with multiple energy management systems via an interactive web interface to provide a comprehensive view of the entire facility's energy profile. Real-time data can be incorporated from sources such as PV solar, building load, EV charging, battery storage, cogeneration and backup natural gas generation to optimise energy usage autonomously across all DER with an intuitive and easy-to-use use interface.
Located at its technology applications centre, the Ameren microgrid is one of the only utility-scale microgrids in the USA capable of serving live customer loads on a utility distribution feeder. It operates at utility-scale voltages, between 4 and 34.5kV, with multiple levels of control. Additionally, it is claimed to be the only known microgrid in the country capable of seamlessly transitioning the power source for an entire distribution circuit from exclusively distributed generation sources to the traditional power grid.
"By integrating microgrids into our system, we're taking a critical step in providing a cleaner and more resilient grid for our customers," said Ron Pate, senior vice president at Ameren Illinois. "Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor gives us a next-generation solution that will meet our needs today and enable us to scale our microgrid to provide new services and incorporate new resources for our customers in the future. Working with innovative providers like Schneider Electric gives us a foundation to achieve our vision of developing a smarter energy infrastructure."
The platform is also deployed across various utility, industrial, commercial, government and university campuses worldwide.