Caterpillar has released the Cat Microgrid technology, a suite of power systems that combine renewable energy sources with traditional power outlets.
The technology adds solar panels, energy storage, and advanced monitoring and control systems to Caterpillar’s regular power generation equipment such as generator sets, switchgear and automatic transfer switches.
The Microgrid is designed to decrease emissions, reduce fuel expenses, lower utility bills, and increase energy efficiency in challenging environments as well.
They range from 10kW to 100MW and can be added in a modular fashion to create systems customised for a variety of power needs.
In March, Caterpillar installed the technology at its Tucson Proving Ground in Arizona, installing 500kW of photovoltaic solar power along with 500kW of short term energy storage through batteries and ultracapacitors to supplement power previously provided by three C15 410Kw diesel generator sets.
The integrated system is expected to slash fuel consumption by 33 per cent.
Rick Rathe, general manager of new ventures for Caterpillar’s Electric Power business said, “With declining cost of renewable energy sources and rapid advances in energy storage technology, the time is right to provide an integrated application for remote power.”
In a hybrid microgrid, renewable sources of energy can account for any percentage of the load depending on conditions. Excess energy produced is stored for stabilisation and for use during less favourable conditions. The generator sets supplement the system by powering the microgrid when energy from other sources in unavailable.
The systems applications can include any combination of the thin film solar modules – which capture energy; energy storage such as ultracapacitors; Cat generator sets powered by diesel or natural gas; and the Cat Microgrid Master Controller which monitors power usage in the microgrid.