Lockheed Martin, ComEd Team Up For Chicago Microgrid With Solar, Battery Storage

Lockheed Martin has signed an agreement to supply a GridStar Lithium energy storage system to ComEd, Illinois’ largest electric utility and a unit of Exelon. The 2 MWh system will be integrated into ComEd’s Bronzeville community microgrid project in Chicago.

As explained by Lockheed Martin, a microgrid is a small power grid with defined boundaries that can operate when connected to the larger electrical grid and as an “island” when there’s an interruption on the main grid. It draws on distributed energy resources, like solar power, to serve customers within the microgrid footprint. Lockheed Martin’s GridStar Lithium storage system will help ComEd integrate and use multiple energy resources to provide electricity to critical facilities in an emergency, when the microgrid is not connected to the main electric grid.

“Lockheed Martin is excited to work with ComEd on this innovative project,” comments Frank Armijo, vice president of Lockheed Martin Energy. “Improving grid resiliency and reliability is crucial to the future of secure, efficient energy supply, and Lockheed Martin is looking forward to collaborating with ComEd to reach this goal.”

ComEd’s Bronzeville microgrid will include battery storage and solar power. It will be connected to a microgrid on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), creating the first utility-operated microgrid cluster in the nation, claims Lockheed Martin. ComEd’s microgrid is expected to serve more than 1,000 customers, including critical service providers such as the Chicago Police Department. In an emergency, the microgrid will enable services to continue and demonstrate the capability of solar photovoltaics and energy storage within a microgrid.

“The use of solar PV and battery energy storage are critical features of the Bronzeville microgrid, and Lockheed Martin’s expertise in the integration of renewable energy resources will help ensure this project benefits the community and produces learnings that will inform the evolution of the system serving northern Illinois,” notes Michelle Blaise, senior vice president of technical services at ComEd.

According to Lockheed Martin, the project will allow ComEd to take full advantage of work funded by two grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). One grant involves developing and testing a microgrid controller that will control the cluster of the Bronzeville microgrid and the microgrid at IIT. A second DOE grant is focused on studying how large amounts of solar PV and batteries can be integrated into a microgrid.

The microgrid is expected to be completed in 2019, and its performance and impact, including a cost-benefit analysis, will be studied over approximately 10 years. A broad range of metrics has been established to evaluate the project and its ability to positively impact the resilience of the energy system, the Bronzeville community and critical infrastructure.

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