Microgrid at University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park will show how smart ABB technology can integrate conventional and renewable generation.
ABB has been selected by the University of Chester to deploy a state-of-the-art microgrid control system for the new Energy Centre at its Thornton Science Park in Cheshire, a major research and innovation hub in England. The microgrid, which will be the first of its kind at a UK university campus, will play a key role in the Energy Centre’s mission to provide a demonstration environment where new energy technologies can be developed and tested, bringing industry and academia together to drive innovation. 

The site covers 90,000 square meters of industrial laboratories, workshops and office space for new and existing companies. This is an emerging centre of excellence for the energy, engineering and advanced manufacturing industries. ABB will provide some of its leading edge technologies for the Energy Centre, including the overall control system that will act as the ‘brain’ of the microgrid enabling the integration and optimum deployment of multiple energy sources and storage units connected to the same local power network. The individual elements within the microgrid will comprise a CHP (combined heat and power) unit, diesel generation, solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, a new energy storage facility and a load bank.

“The Thornton Science Park microgrid is a pioneering initiative and we are pleased to contribute with our domain expertise, experience and know-how” said Massimo Danieli, Managing Director of ABB’s Grid Automation business unit, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “This project is a good example of how ABB partners with academia to demonstrate and promote the adoption of leading edge technologies that make us a partner of choice for enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”

Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director and Professor of the Thornton Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester said: “The Energy Centre has been created to demonstrate and promote the development of the latest technologies and forms part of a wider energy focus for Thornton Science Park. The ABB microgrid control and storage solution is a particularly exciting development that provides a platform for learning and is a great example of industry and academia working together to address real-world issues.”

ABB’s microgrid solution will demonstrate how DER (distributed energy resource) technologies can work together to minimize fuel costs and emissions within a grid. It will also maximize the penetration of renewable energy in a grid. The microgrid controller will manage the Energy Centre’s connection to the campus network – and then the connection to the local grid. This will show the microgrid’s capability to connect or disconnect seamlessly from the main grid and operate in an islanded mode, ensuring continuity of supply in case of an outage.

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The new Energy Centre at University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park