Penn State partners with Alstom to establish Microgrid Center of Excellence

Penn State has signed a memorandum of understanding with Alstom, a leader in smart grid and innovative utility solutions, to establish a global center of excellence for microgrids at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. This center, the first of its kind, will help advance the development of microgrid technologies as part of The Navy Yard’s grid modernization project.

“The energy industry is going through a major transformation and there is a significant need and opportunity to improve grid resiliency, security, reliability and efficiency while seamlessly incorporating renewable energy resources,” said Michael Atkinson, president of Alstom Grid North America. “Microgrids will play a key role in the modernization of the energy grid and The Navy Yard project will help advance this technology platform in the future.”

This partnership strengthens the ongoing development and demonstration of microgrid technologies underway at The Navy Yard both as part of a $1.2 million grant awarded to Alstom by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2014, and the $129 million awarded to Penn State from the DOE in 2010. The Navy Yard is the 1,200-acre former naval shipyard, now transformed into a progressive and modern business campus with more than 145 companies in the office, industrial, and R&D sectors occupying more than 7 million square feet of space. By combining distributed renewable resources and energy storage assets portions of the campus will become self-sufficient in generating, managing and storing electricity. The campus will be able to operate independently from the main grid in case of an outage due to extreme weather or other extraordinary events.

Penn State leaders on Tuesday (June 2) joined representatives from Alstom, The Navy Yard’s master developer and Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation (PIDC), the DOE, PECO Energy Company, regional grid operator PJM, Burns Engineering and the Philadelphia Water Department to celebrate this strategic partnership and share the company’s vision for the future of microgrids.

Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s vice president for research, said this agreement places the university and its partners at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to develop technologies that will improve energy efficiency.

“We are working to spur real innovation and job growth, as well as boost the efficiency of current technologies,” Sharkey said. “Energy efficiency is one of the easiest ways to improve our competitiveness and reduce costs.”

By establishing this center of excellence Alstom expands its presence in the greater Philadelphia region, which is home to Alstom Grid’s North American headquarters and more than 100 employees.