Synthesis of Information Related to Airport Practices. Topic S01-16. Microgrids and their Application for Airports and Public Transportation

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) defines a microgrid as “a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that act as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid.” In other words, a microgrid is an independent electrical system established in isolation from the wider electrical grid to provide enhanced control and protection to prevent negative effects of grid failure caused by events such as natural disasters and human intervention. Microgrids can make facilities, processes, and communities more resilient by securing a reliable power source giving owners the option to disconnect from the distribution grid (referred to as “islanding”) and draw from local power sources when the grid goes down. This protection can be particularly important for preserving functionality of critical societal uses such as public safety facilities, hospitals, communication centers, and transportation systems. The opportunity presented by microgrids has gained prominence in recent years as technology to diversify energy infrastructure has advanced and threats to regional grids from severe weather events and terrorism have grown. In recognitions of the system-wide benefits of microgrids and the need for interagency cooperation, the US DOE established the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) to work with other federal and state agencies. ESTAP has identified and funded 12 projects that will be deployed in coming years. One project designed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy will improve power reliability through energy storage and microgrids in the metropolitan New York Area. Another ESTAP project seeks to develop a solar PV microgrid associated with Burlington International Airport in Vermont. In September 2011, the southwestern U.S. experienced a blackout which was the largest such event in California’s history affecting 6 million people. The National University System Institute for Policy Research estimated that the overall economic loss of the blackout was between $97 and $118 million (Miles 2012). San Diego, the center of the blackout, was without power for a 12-hour period. Many organizations, including the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority are seeing the potential benefits of a microgrid as a result of this major energy disruption. Examples of microgrids abound. Alaska has been a leader in world microgrid deployment, with between 200 and 250 “permanently islanded” microgrids— ranging from 30 kW to 100 MW in size and with a total capacity of over 800 MW. Additionally, each Hawaiian island is its own microgrid due to the expense of installing submarine cables to join them into a larger – yet still isolated – microgrid. Xcel Energy, a utility operating in Colorado, announced its intentions to develop a solar powered microgrid at Denver Airport in partnership with Panasonic. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has recently announced funding for a feasibility study to assess a microgrid at Stewart Airport and associated public facilities in the Town of New Windsor, NY. Other microgrids projects are under development for the military, universities, and at private business campuses. New Jersey Transit will construct a first-of-its-kind electrical microgrid capable of supplying highly reliable power during storms or other times when the centralized power grid is compromised. School bus systems in California and Vermont are experimenting with electric buses and microgrids. This synthesis report seeks to compile microgrid information and experience in order to benefit overall airport and public transportation operations and security, and provide information to airports and transit agencies who may consider establishing a microgrid. Research will locate, assemble and document existing information on microgrids as they might relate to airports and public transportation; document the benefits and challenges associated with microgrids and what is being done to improve implementation; detail existing research particularly as it pertains to enabling airports and public transportation to continue to operate as critical infrastructure; identifying the challenges that remain for the development of airport and public transportation microgrids; and organize, evaluate, and present the information collected for the benefit of the airport and transit industries.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $75000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 11-03, Topic S01-16

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Project Managers:

    Staba, Gail

  • Start Date: 20170101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 41276

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01618243
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 11-03, Topic S01-16
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 1 2016 2:08AM