Skip to main content

Solar celebration energizes microgrid research

Through the Honnold Foundation and Casa Pueblo, solar panels are installed in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, and hooked to microgrids with battery storage. ORNL researchers are developing a microgrid orchestrator to manage the microgrids together for increased long-term electrical reliability. Credit: Fabio Andrade


Although sunshine can be harnessed to slow climate change, it rarely inspires dancing in the streets. Yet that’s exactly what’s expected in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, as it celebrates the completion of two new community microgrids equipped with solar panels and batteries. Solar energy could boost quality of life in the mountain town, which often loses power for weeks to months.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers Ben Ollis and Max Ferrari will be in Adjuntas to join the March 18 festivities but also to hammer out more technical details of their contribution to the project: making the microgrids even more reliable. They have developed a control architecture and algorithms allowing microgrids to support each other, despite hurricane damage or an extended failure of the island’s electric system. The team plans to demonstrate this tool, known as an orchestrator, in lab hardware before installation in Adjuntas later in 2023.

“There’s a real chance people’s lives could be changed by this technology in the future,” Ollis said. “It’s always great to see your research doing something so tangible.”

Related: Researchers bring more reliable electricity to Puerto Rican microgrids