District Energy: The Grid of Microgrids

Outreach to the community – including building partnerships for research and engaging in energy-related activities in the region – will be an increasingly important function of the GRID Institute. Innovation is only as meaningful as its implementation; therefore, technologies developed at the Institute will seek to be deployed alongside the City of Pittsburgh in a manner that builds off of the District Energy Initiative’s current progress. Considering the GRID Institute’s location in the Hill District, GRID researchers will be able to work with the City and the University of Pittsburgh to coordinate on the “Energy Ecovation District” that has long been a focus of the City’s sustainable development. The new power laboratory will itself be a significant utility distribution level microgrid, where new technologies can not only be developed, but demonstrated in early stage applications and tested/certified for accelerated field deployments. The power lab’s overall unique capabilities will provide a significant infrastructure that can be accessed and utilized in a variety of ways, and that will help to engage more industry and community partners, as well as faculty and other collaborators well into the future.  

The United States (U.S) Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are working in conjunction with the City of Pittsburgh (City) and the University of Pittsburgh to transform how energy is produced, transported and consumed in the City. This transformation will rely on 21st Century Energy Infrastructure  designs, which leverage advanced technology and design techniques to modernize energy infrastructure, create new business models and markets, and expand technology research and development opportunities (NETL 2017). Achieving this vision will require developing solutions that are unique to the City: its climate, topography, energy needs, resources, and existing infrastructure. In this way, the City will demonstrate what the American "City of the Future" looks like, with all its attendant environmental, economic, and  job-creation benefits. It will also serve as a template for other cities seeking to reinvent their energy systems. 

For more information contact: Dr. Katrina Kelly-Pitou kmkelly@pitt.edu