Microgrids, Technological Advancements in Electrical Industry Highlighted During NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series Electrical Program on May 18
The electrical industry is no stranger to advancements in technology and often is ahead of the curve. For example, automobiles have gone from utilizing leaded gas, to unleaded gas (leaded gas was banned in 1996 as part of the Clean Air Act), and now are utilizing electricity for power. While most cars on the road still utilize gasoline, many automakers have set their sights on having a significant portion of the vehicles they manufacturer in the next five to seven years electric powered. Countless electrical contractors have embraced this advancement in technology and have voluntarily begun offering installation of electrical vehicle charging stations to their customers even if the use of these stations is not fully operational yet. New construction is an ideal time to install electrical vehicle charging stations because, while there still is an increased cost to be installed, the cost is significantly less than performing the installation after the home or facility has already been built. Areas such as Seattle and California have already modified local building codes to require electrical vehicle charging ability to be incorporated into construction. Codes and standards developers have also begun adding electrical vehicle charging requirements within their documents that, when adopted by local jurisdictions, would likely add those same requirements into those municipalities.
Another means of technology that is starting to be implemented more often is microgrids. The 2020 National Electrical Code® (NEC®) defines a microgrid system as a premises wiring system that has generation, energy storage, and load(s), or any combination thereof, that includes the ability to disconnect from and parallel with the primary source. Often the generation side of microgrids comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Microgrids can be connected to the utility grid, where they can receive and/or supply power, and also operate in a stand-alone mode that the NEC references as “island mode.” In island mode, the microgrid is completely independent of the utility grid. Also, while in island mode, power is supplied to loads through stored energy, continued power generation, which is often through renewable means, or some combination of both. Another benefit to microgrids is their stability. Provided they are designed properly and can provide adequate power to the load, microgrids are often more reliable than utility power which is only as good as the weakest link in the much larger overall grid. A storm three counties away can take out power to an area that has the sun shining and impact a vital load. This is just one example of many that make implementing microgrids advantageous.
American writer, Stewart Brand, is known for staunchly stating, “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” While that particular quote may be a wee bit extreme, it is a good reminder that the technology steamroller is indeed moving. When change is inevitable, understanding and adapting to that change becomes imperative. We never know what new technology is on the horizon. NFPA has been here for the last 125 years helping the world understand and implement new technologies safely, and we intend to be here to help for the next 125 years.
In celebration of our milestone, we are launching the year-long NFPA 125th Anniversary Conference Series, which kicks off on May 18 with an electrical program titled, “Empowering Electrical Design, Installation, and Safety.” The day offers a great array of informative sessions led by industry experts on electrical topics you most need to know about. Find out how the industry is tackling microgrids and related technologies in one of the day’s sessions called, “Power Play: Using Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and Microgrids to Help Power Our Future.” You won’t want to miss this great opportunity to participate in what will be a lively discussion. Did you know that you can earn up to 5 CEU’s while watching live and up to 9 CEU’s if you complete all sessions on demand? The conference series is a great way to keep abreast of the latest industry news and help increase your knowledge, which you can then take back to the job. So don’t delay, please join us and register today! We look forward to seeing you there!