Schneider Electric to build advanced microgrid in Foxboro, MA

Written By: Jen Neville
March 21, 2018

Schneider Electric has announced a project with REC Solar to build an advanced microgrid at its Foxboro, Massachusetts facility. The microgrid would be funded by Schneider Electric’s Microgrid-as-a-Service (MaaS) business model – it is the third MaaS project with Duke Energy Renewables and REC Solar. The Foxboro facility operates as Schneider Electric’s Process Automation North American Power Generation Center of Excellence.

Many facilities believe a backup generator is sufficient for power resilience, but typical backup generators are tied only to selected loads and don’t allow facilities to remain fully operational. Adding microgrid and automation capabilities can enhance resilience, prevent outages in the event of grid failure, and allow facilities to maintain operations as usual. Commercial and industrial facilities that experience a power outage would suffer a loss of productivity. A 30-minute power cut at a U.S. facility reportedly results in an average loss of $15,709 for medium and large industrial clients, and shorter blackouts account for an annual estimated economic loss of between $104 and $164 billion. Thus, even a short duration grid outage can cost companies thousands of hours of productivity.

This announcement comes less than a year after Schneider Electric unveiled the advanced microgrid at its Boston One Campus (BOC) in Andover, Massachusetts. The microgrid offers Schneider Electric increased reliability, cost savings, and sustainable energy production for critical R&D operations and was funded by its MaaS business model, which helps companies build microgrids without needing upfront capital.

“Our customers demand power resilience from the microgrids we install at their sites, and our facilities rely on the same high standards to keep sites online in the event of a grid outage. Through our existing partnership with REC Solar and Duke Energy Renewables, we have seen first-hand the benefits of installing advanced microgrids at commercial and industrial facilities through the MaaS business model,” said Mark Feasel, Vice President, Utility Segment, Smart Grid & Microgrid, Schneider Electric. “This microgrid ensures the building will remain operational during unplanned outages, in addition to optimizing the use of our on-site resources that demonstrate Schneider Electric’s commitment to sustainability.”

As part of the microgrid deployment at the Foxboro facility, Schneider Electric would utilize its own flagship EcoStruxure™ Hybrid Distributed Control System (DCS) to harness the power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and connect all components of the architecture. The EcoStruxure Hybrid DCS offers advanced asset management capabilities and enables energy optimization and easy troubleshooting to ensure a resilient, cost-effective and sustainable source of power via the microgrid.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled, open and interoperable system architecture and platform that delivers Innovation At Every Level of connected products, edge control, and apps, analytics, and services. The EcoStruxure architecture enables scalable design and operation of connected systems with best-in-class cyber security built in at every layer.

EcoStruxure Profit Advisor and Termis District Energy Optimization Software would also be incorporated into the solution to further optimize the thermal distribution and energy (OpEx) costs. A unique patented IIoT software that uses Big Data analytics to measure and reveal the profitability of an industrial operation in real-time, EcoStruxure Profit Advisor offers insight into how every production asset within the plant contributes to the operational profitability of the company.

Finally, Schneider Electric’s Foxboro microgrid would include on-site advanced microgrid control software and hardware through the use of EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor and the Energy Control Center, in addition to the deployment of ongoing monitoring and services including turnkey implementation and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor would help Schneider Electric track and make CO2 reduction measures visible to the facility managers.

As the “Investor Owner” of the project, REC Solar would be leveraged as the capital partner to fund, own, and operate the microgrid assets. Upon its completion by the end of the year, the Foxboro microgrid would mark the third MaaS project that Schneider Electric has completed with the REC Solar and Duke Energy Renewables team.

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