On July 17, 2015, NETL entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Pittsburgh. The initiative is being carried out by several executive and technical teams consisting of representatives from DOE, NETL, and the City of Pittsburgh. Additionally, a number of regional and local organizations that crosscut industry, private-sector, academia, and foundations are partnering in the work being performed under the MOU including: the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Duquesne Light Company, SmithGroup, RAND Corporation, Allegheny County, Buro Happold, SFPE Foundation, Forest Hills Borough, and Pittsburgh Quantum Institute (PQI). The scope of the activities under the MOU will support Pittsburgh’s efforts to modernize its energy grid through a network of small-scale, distributed energy systems that will:
Having communities organized into districts that are served by locally produced, low-carbon power, can boost reliability and efficiency while significantly reducing environmental impacts in comparison with the traditional method of having power pulled from the larger older generation and distribution grid that is fed by distant power plants and long-range transmission lines. The city is uniquely positioned to implement a network of microgrids because of the topography of Pittsburgh and its preexistent distributed energy sites.
If successful in Pittsburgh, the new energy system will have a variety of benefits for energy generation and distribution including increased reliability, improved economics, enhanced security, improved environment, and accelerated innovation. The concept could serve as a model for other cities adapting to the challenges of a changing energy paradigm and establish the city as a global leader in energy innovation and technology demonstration and deployment. The challenge ahead is to organize those existing distributed energy systems and help them interconnect through new “energy districts” within the city.
The five existing distributed energy systems that the City and NETL see as energy districts that could serve as a spine for future network of microgrid development are:
In addition, the City is in various stages of developing five new distributed energy / microgrid projects:
By assisting Pittsburgh with the initiatives associated with the MOU, focused on making Pittsburgh a Clean Energy City of the Future, NETL is helping to fulfill its mission to discover, integrate, and mature technology solutions to enhance the nation’s energy foundation and protect the environment for future generations.