Microgrid helps power largest office building

Black & Veatch has commissioned a new microgrid system that provides power to its world headquarters using a range of renewables and natural gas. The microgrid, which can produce up to 1,300 megawatt hours of power annually — combines natural gas, rooftop solar, geothermal and battery storage.

Rodman Innovation Pavillion. Credit: BV Creative Services

The new system powers the Rodman Innovation Pavilion — Black & Veatch’s world headquarters — and is the first microgrid powering a commercial building in Kansas. Companies and municipalities seeking to lower their carbon footprint and enhance the resiliency of their electric power supply are slowly but surely migrating toward microgrids.

The Black & Veatch microgrid can operate independently or in support of the traditional electric grid, adding resiliency to the building and lowering energy costs. It will provide enough clean energy to run the entire Innovation Pavilion — part of the largest office building in Kansas.

The microgrid includes two natural gas-fired microturbines that deliver 130 kilowatts (kW) of onsite electrical power generation. During winter months, heat is recovered from the microturbines to support heating for the world headquarters. A geothermal heat pump system with 15 wells drilled 500 feet deep helps heat and cool the Pavilion. A 100 kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery energy storage system captures energy from generation resources and delivers electricity to the World Headquarters during times of high electric demand, as in summer months.

Three rooftop solar photovoltaic panel groups — monocrystalline, polycrystalline and AC modules that use micro inverters — provide 50 kW of electricity at peak output. A meteorological station on the building collects information on photovoltaic (PV) module temperature conditions that affect solar panel output, and provides information on solar radiation, wind speed and precipitation.

The microgrid system can be islanded from the external electric grid and helps ensure electric supplies in the event of a power outage. Further, it provides power to a portion of the 45 electric vehicle charging stations at the world headquarters.

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