The U.S. Department of Energy defines a microgrid as a group of interconnected components and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries. Microgrids can operate independently of the larger grid, and if connected to the grid they act as a single controllable entity. A microgrid is one way for a large user of power to take control of its energy use and focus on renewables.
Multinational manufacturing giant Siemens deployed a microgrid at its Austrian headquarters in Vienna to help it meet its environmental impact and sustainability goals. While the microgrid helps Siemens control its energy use, private LTE helps it control the microgrid.
Microgrids integrate distributed energy sources such as solar cells and battery storage, which need connectivity. By deploying a wireless network, Siemens avoided the need to deploy cabling to connect sensors and other devices associated with managing the microgrid. The microgrid controller wirelessly connects to all assets to manage the grid and assign energy resources in accordance with demand. Dedicated spectrum and infrastructure, coupled with cloud-based software deployed on-premise, enable the controller to automatically manage load fluctuations in real time.
To deploy its private network, Siemens turned to Austrian carrier A1 and to Nokia, Siemens’ former partner in the wireless infrastructure business. Last month, Nokia announced a three-year deal to provide its private wireless technology and services for all existing and new A1 Austria LTE and 5G enterprise campus networks. In addition, Nokia already counts 200 utilities around the world as customers.
“Managing microgrids is another example where both utilities and enterprises, such as Siemens, can benefit from the reliable wireless connectivity provided by private wireless networks,” said Peter Wukowits, head of Nokia Austria. He said Nokia’s private network will support Industry 4.0 use cases today and other 5G-enabled use cases in the future.
For Siemens, one primary use case is supporting electric vehicle charging stations. The company has implemented 320kW of solar generation and 500kWh battery storage to support 50 EV charging stations.
"One of the challenges of the future is a reliable and at the same time clean supply, transmission and use of energy. Microgrids can significantly contribute to this,” said Wolfgang Hesoun, CEO Siemens Austria.
Siemens said its network is the first of its kind and offers many opportunities for research. It is one of the first microgrid projects to use 5G technology.
“By using this private campus network as the foundation of the Siemens microgrid, we are demonstrating how 5G technologies enable the optimal control of energy facilities,” said Marcus Grausam, CEO at A1 Austria. "Network slicing in A1’s mobile networks allows organizations to operate private wireless networks, which not only offer the best possible security, but also enable completely new applications thanks to lowest possible latency and high reliability.”
Nokia already has more than 35 private wireless customers using 5G, and more than 220 private wireless customers overall.