Military bases are often in isolated or disaster-ridden locations, which makes them ideal candidates for microgrids, or self-contained power grids. GE is capitalizing on the military's need for reliable power in all circumstances with a smart microgrid demo project at the world's largest Marine Corps base, Twentynine Palms Base in Southern California. The project is being completed thanks to a $2 million boost from Department of Defense stimulus funds.
Unlike GE's civilian smart grid endeavors, Twentynine Palms won't use the company's smart meters and energy management systems. Instead, GE is developing new software and using microgrid controllers in the Twentynine Palms project to efficiently manage renewable energy sources and energy storage devices. The software will keep Twentynine Palms connected to the larger power grid, but will also allow the base to seamlessly disconnect if necessary. According to GE, the technology being developed for the California base will be scaleable to other bases around the world.
The GE microgrid project is limited to the military for now, but insight gained from Twentynine Palms' could be useful in other environments where microgrids make sense, such as universities and corporate campuses. Eventually, GE's microgrid model could be expanded to communities in developing countries where grid power is limited.