In the wake of Hurricane Michael, more attention has been drawn to the importance of having a plan to ensure business continuity in the wake of a natural disaster. For many small businesses, this means ensuring access to a reliable source of power, allowing employees to essential services such as lighting, HVAC, internet and phones.
In order to achieve this, many small businesses are looking into the construction of a independently sustained source of power, often referred to as a microgrid system. A microgrid is way of producing and energy on-site in order to allow sustained operations independently from the power company.
One example of a well implemented microgrid power system was recently implemented by a small community off the coast of North Carolina, by the name of Ocracoke Island.
Ocracoke Island’s Microgrid System
The batteries, which were used in the island city, are able to store up to one-half of a megawatt of energy, ensuring a significant amount of power would be available in the event of an outage. The city takes comfort in knowing that they would be able to operate independently for an extended amount of time should a natural disaster hit, but the microgrid is also practical. In fact, the system is used year-round to supplement usage in summer months when power consumption on the island triples due the large amounts of tourists who visit at that time.
The system employed by Ocracoke is unique because it is tough for solar panels to withstand the intense winds the country suffers from, and considering the island location, there is very limited ground space.
How Microgrid Systems Work
Microgrid systems are typically hooked up to rooftop or ground mount solar array so they can generate their own power without having to rely on a power plant. The microgrid system is then connected to a main controller along with other energy systems such as water heaters, and the main electric grid to supply power directly to key aspects of the infrastructure.
When activated by the control system (which could be set to turn on in cases of emergency), power will flow from the microgrid system to all connected utilities. A graphic showing how microgrids work can be found below.
EnergyLink has worked with a number of partners to identify and build self-sustaining power sources for businesses we work with. To discuss options for a microgrid for your business, contact EnergyLink today.