ABB – Carbon-negative Manchester microgrid to use ABB technology – Design Products & Applications

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05 August 2022
The system provides similar electrical control as an industrial-scale system but at a fraction of the cost. The project is a blueprint for small-scale microgrids and has potential for deployment at thousands of commercial and industrial sites around the UK.

Oldham Council’s long-term goal is for a future eco-park (based at its Environmental Services’ depot) to become carbon negative by completely covering its own electrical and heat requirements, as well as supplying excess power to the grid. 

The electrical control scheme is based on smart ABB Ability circuit breakers. These have the capability and flexibility to control power generation, distribution and consumption, as well as providing advanced features such as power management, metering and communication.

The first phase of the project will be complete by spring 2023 and will integrate solar photovoltaic panels, a 500kVA grid connection, electric vehicle (EV) charging points and electricity demand from an office building, as well as heating from an air source heat pump. 

Capacity has been set aside for the project’s Phase 2 (subject to funding), which will enable the depot to produce more energy than it uses by integrating a battery energy storage system, as well as combined heat and power (CHP) units fed by hydrogen gas from biomass gasification units.

“We’ve worked closely with ABB to develop an innovative electrical system that anticipates potential future developments that are proposed for Part 8 of the IET Wiring Regulations,” said Lindsay Moody, Director of Engineering, Tetra Tech. 

“The result is a sophisticated control system that provides a similar level of control to an industrial control system but at a fraction of the cost. It has huge potential to help operators of small-scale commercial and industrial sites make the most of renewable energy and reduce their own carbon emissions.”

The site is one of dozens of similar locations in the UK where this approach could be successfully deployed. While the project was initially conceived as an island microgrid, the project scope changed due to reallocation of funding during the pandemic, which shifted the battery system and CHP units to a later phase. 

“As a result, ABB’s engineering team worked with Tetra Tech to deliver a scheme that would meet the requirements of Phase 1 alone, as well as Phase 2 in the future.

David Lowen, ABB’s Lead Business Manager in the UK for Electrification, said: “The beauty of our circuit breakers is that they come with additional features built in, such as accurate metering, as well as digital communication and algorithms for smart decision-making. 

“Not only does that save space and reduce installation time, but it gives them the flexibility to control low-voltage distribution, as well as more sophisticated roles such as power management, load shedding and generator control when clients require these. That creates exciting opportunities for a site like this in Greater Manchester.”

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