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Microgrid Now Powering Shell’s Technology Center in Houston

Image courtesy of Black & Veatch.


A microgrid at Shell’s Technology Center in Houston, Texas, is actively powering part of the campus while serving as a critical research tool for Shell International Exploration & Production Company, Inc.’s work to explore the next generation of clean power and distributed energy technologies.

The microgrid, which incorporates solar photovoltaic panels, a natural gas reciprocating engine, and an advanced battery storage system, was installed earlier this year by Black & Veatch and provides clean, resilient energy for a facility on the 200-acre Shell Technology Center Houston (STCH) campus. Home to nearly 2,000 Shell scientists, technologists, and engineers, the STCH is the largest of the three Shell technology hubs; the others are in Amsterdam and Bangalore.

Microgrids are integrated systems of multiple power generation sources and electric loads. When operated under a consolidated control with a sustainable energy management system, microgrid systems can produce and distribute electricity and operate independently from the larger power grid, increasing resilience and reliability.

“This project is an important step in Shell’s efforts to explore and develop new energy technologies as we work towards our goal to power progress together by providing more and cleaner energy solutions,” said Jon La Follett, Energy System Integration and Storage Program Lead in Shell’s New Energies Research and Technology Department.

According to Black & Veatch, the microgrid raises STCH’s resilience and reliability by providing critical services during a power outage or other service anomaly. The system combines 300 kilowatts (kW) of ground-mounted solar, a 127-kW natural gas generator, a 250-kW, 1,050-megawatt-hour (MWh) lithium-ion battery and a 250-kW load bank. In early 2019, the microgrid will be expanded to include additional Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) technologies and electric vehicle chargers.

Shell’s Energy Initiatives

Back in 2017, Royal Dutch Shell announced it was working on developing new technologies to reduce customers’ energy use — such as electric vehicle charging — and it plans to invest up to $1 billion per year to do so. News from Goldman Sachs that oil demand could peak as early as 2024 pushed the oil giant towards new ways of generating energy.

And more recently, in December 2018, Royal Dutch Shell plc announced it would set short-term targets to reduce its net carbon footprint each year; the company is linking its executive pay structure to the meeting of these targets. The energy company has a goal of reducing the net carbon footprint of its energy products by 20% by 2035, and by 50% by 2050, but institutional investors have been demanding that the company do more to reduce emissions. Now, the company says that each year, Shell will set a target for the following three- or five-year period.


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