The Maryland Energy Administration(MEA) has given Frostburg State University a $750,000 grant to install a new microgrid on its campus.
Traditional grids have always been prone to disruptions due to natural disasters, cyber-attacks, climate change, or intentional power outages. As a result, many states in the US are investing in resiliency through microgrids. In February, MEA launched three initiatives: A Resilient Maryland Capital Development Pilot Program(RMCD), an FY22 Resilient Maryland Planning and Design Program, and an FY22 Resiliency Hub Grant Program.
‘Providing career training and opportunities for Western Maryland is a crucial component of keeping well-paying, local jobs in these communities,’ Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in a public statement. ‘It has revealed that they are ripe for innovation and leadership in Maryland’s clean energy transition.’
Frostburg State University(FSU) is the first recipient of funding from the RMCD Pilot Program. It is a public university that has accommodated over 5,000 students yearly since the late 19th century. The university will install a clean energy microgrid, integrate an emergency shelter and meet sustainability goals within the campus community. The microgrid will power buildings as well as the emergency shelter.
In 2020, Frostburg State University received a $100,000 grant from MEA to plan the installation of a microgrid for campus resilience. It partnered with Optimize Renewables to this effect. Through the partnership, FSU could conduct feasibility studies on the possible resiliency models for the campus. The research showed that it was possible to develop a campus-scale microgrid while employing labor from Allegany County. Also, the research created internship opportunities for students. Many students will receive education in form of degree programs and certifications by the university.
FSU Proposed Major Projects
The grant will see the beginning of solar systems, fuel cell systems, thermal storage, and advanced heat exchange systems. It will feature a rooftop, ground-mounted solar panels, and a solar canopy with electric vehicle charging systems.
Also, a gas fuel cell system will co-generate heat and electric power. The heat energy will ensure a constant supply of heat and chilled water using an absorption chiller across the campus. For these technologies to function effectively, the advanced microgrid will ensure an efficient and effective energy supply.
These projects will set FSU on a smooth beginning in creating a clean energy environment in the university and Maryland as a whole. The project will bring about economic development by providing renewable energy jobs.
MEA’s grant program in 2020 was to boost the economy through innovative clean energy technology. It awards 14 different organizations a total of $1.05 million in this highly competitive program. So far, it has disbursed over $4 million, identifying 30 microgrid and distributed energy system opportunities across Maryland.
The director of MEA, Dr. Mary Tung, said, ‘We are excited for Maryland institutions like Frostburg that see the benefits of expanding sustained electrical power through this program. In times of much needed emergency operation, it is vital to ensure our communities protect our most at risk with the necessary energy resources.’
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