How to Create a DOD-Certified Microgrid

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), through its Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), has identified microgrids as a key technology for increasing security, energy efficiency and resilience at new and existing military installations.

The advantages are clear. Microgrids can reduce the energy and physical footprint of military installations. This in turn reduces the reliance on and impact to local communities while improving the likelihood of uninterrupted power despite disruptions on local utility networks.

However, scalability is not easily applicable to microgrids, as they can only be standardized to a certain point. That’s because the landscape for each location can be unique and can require an equally unique solution to maximize benefits.

In a quest for the optimum solution, DOD ESTCP financed the Rapid and Repeatable Modeling and Design of Secure and Resilient Microgrids (Rapid-Resilient-Microgrid) project, working with Xendee Corporation, in collaboration with Arizona State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California Polytechnic Institute San Luis Obispo, and the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command.

To this end, Xendee and its partners engaged in a demonstration of a standardized, transparent, streamlined, and repeatable platform solution that addresses the capabilities requested by the ESTCP. Designed to achieve DOD goals by focusing on unique situations at real installations, the demonstration took place on three military installations with disparate scale, mission, geography, and regulation. In this case, the sites were Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia; U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria; and Naval Base San Diego, California.The Xendee platform used in these demonstrations consists of a state-of-the-art economic optimization and power system tool built on more than 20 years of research and development. It’s cloud based and hosted on secure remote or localized servers. Within this project, Xendee concluded the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) process to be able to be used by DOD. Xendee is also registered in the General Services Administration catalog.

The purpose was to demonstrate the end-to-end microgrid design and implementation platform coupled with a DOD tailored training program to improve microgrid literacy. The Xendee platform is an informed decision-making technology that expands and builds upon well-established scientific models of microgrid power and energy behavior. It creates a single user platform around these tools, combines it with databases and interfaces to external tools (e.g., solar data and tariff data) and streamlines the whole microgrid design and implementation process.

At each of the three military installations, the first three steps were meant to mimic the design phase of a DOD microgrid. This provided real deliverables to the installations at the end of stage three, along with an assessment in terms of time and cost savings of the demonstration. Step four synthesized the learning made in those three steps, distilling and documenting the repeat able and standard approach. Step five crafted a training program around the work performed in the first four steps. Step six ensured that Xendee met the minimum cybersecurity requirements for operation within the DOD. And step seven focused on technology transfer and project outreach while also providing demonstration to general management.

A lack of microgrid standardization was noticed early on in the process. The challenge was exacerbated by a lack of tools or a network within the DOD to get started on microgrid projects.

Chart with process for creating a DOD Microgrid.
The process for creating a DOD Microgrid according to the research performed by the project team. Tasks 1 through 5 occur in sequence while tasks 6 and 7 are ongoing. REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM SERDP/ESTCP, PROJECT # EW20-B8-5271 (STADLER, 2022), 13.

With all this in mind, this microgrid demonstration presented the opportunity to counter this unnecessary process through the creation of a standard repeatable design approach that is branch and tool independent. In Figure 2, the standard design of a microgrid typically follows three key milestones for funding and engineering, but this process can also change depending on the procurement method used by the organization. For instance, some methods (Design-Bid-Build) may incorporate a stage for bidding among multiple vendors while some leave the ownership of the microgrid in the hands of the provider – buying the energy instead as a service (ESPC).

Typical funding milestones and associated engineering steps identified by the project team. REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION FROM SERDP/ESTCP, PROJECT # EW20-B8-5271 (STADLER, 2022), 15.

To round out each site demonstration activity, Xendee and its partner, Arizona State University, created a DOD-specialized training curriculum designed to train service members at participating installations from the ground up on using the Xendee software.

In terms of budget, the average costs to complete even the most complex modeling using Xendee resulted in less than 1% of total project costs. A survey of publicly available microgrid feasibility and design cost data was conducted and compared to Xendee design and modeling costs. Xendee design modeling costs averaged ~13% of the industry average.

Additional time savings were realized as well, with modeling taking weeks – not months – in person-hours.

To learn more about this process and the Xendee platform, schedule a demonstration at https://xendee.com/government.

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