Research Projects

Airport Microgrid Toolkit - Optimizing and Finding Long-term Host

To improve the ACRP Airport Microgrid Implementation Toolkit ("the Toolkit") by updating cost and technology information with new annual data, optimizing toolkit user interface, integrating new distributed energy resource capabilities, and identifying a long-term host.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

Airports are increasingly focused on operational resilience and are exploring microgrids as a way to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of natural and manmade disasters. As equipment costs drop and technology improves, the economics of installing airport microgrids are becoming more feasible. In 2018, ACRP funded a microgrid toolkit that will be made available to airports in 2020. The toolkit is web-based and offers a range of resources. Given the rapidly changing microgrid technology costs and evolving energy markets, the information in the Toolkit will quickly become obsolete without regular updates. User experience can also be enhanced with improved graphic design and navigation to increase usability for a broader airport audience. Most importantly, a long-term host needs to be identified so that the microgrid toolkit can obtain stable and continuous support.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

Airports are accelerating their adoption of microgrids. Finding a longterm host that will maintain the toolkit and update it regularly will ensure that the resource stays relevant.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

The following tasks are recommended for this project:

  1. Incorporating essential data – conduct an industry scan of key microgrid components, utility rates and financial support mechanisms. The findings from the industry scan will be used to update the Toolkit annually (2x during project duration). There are two key data components that will be included in the industry scan:
    a. Distributed energy resources (DERs) – battery storage and energy generation options continue to rapidly improve. The project would include a revision of this toolkit section plus a demonstration workshop to test its functionality at an airport.
    i. DER Integration Workshop: The team will identify an airport with existing or planned DERs that may not provide resilience solutions or include battery storage. The team will conduct an onsite workshop to analyze the integration of their future or existing DERs into a microgrid, and insights will be added to the toolkit.
    b. Revised data – obtain and integrate the most current information for market prices, grid reliability and commercially available technology.
    i. The costs for purchasing electricity and fuel and the costs for purchasing and operating DERs continues to change. The toolkit will be updated annually with the latest energy prices and DER costs so that it remains a relevant and accurate source for airports to use when evaluating microgrid readiness.
    ii. Microgrids offer potential revenue streams, from energy sales to demand response and reliability services. The toolkit will be updated with any new developments in these areas.

  2. User experience – shift all narrative and visual content onto a revised design template with a simplified navigation to make it easier to navigate and read by a wide audience including non-technical staff. Work would involve complete overhaul of content, revising all graphics and adding new calculators.

  3. Website support – maintain customer support for the website to support airport user queries within one business day. Provide routine maintenance and updates to the web server and assess, analyze and address any problems with website behavior or functionality that may arise.

  4. Long term host – identify a prospect list (e.g., FAA, U.S. Department of Energy, or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), conduct bi-lateral discussions for new ownership, and support transfer of website resources once the host is selected.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

$400,000 over two years

Task 1 $190,000 (subtask a - $90,000; subtask b - $100,000 [$50,000 each 12 months])
Task 2 $9,000 ($60k redesign; $30k refinement in year 2 based on airport feedback)
Task 3 $80,000 ($40,000 for each year)
Task 4 $40,000

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.
  1. ACRP 10-26 (Pending)
  2. ACRP Synthesis 91 / TCRP Synthesis 137: Microgrids and Their Application for Airports and Public Transit
  3. NREL Phase I Microgrid Cost Study: Data Collection and Analysis of Microgrid Costs in the United States (October 2018)
  4. NARUC Report: The Value of Resilience for Distributed Energy Resources
  5. North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) 2019 State of Grid Reliability
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Idea No. 313