Remota 


Renewable Energy Microgrid Overland Transportation Array


What is REMOTA™ ?


REMOTA™ is a portable microgrid (a power trailer) that generates renewable electricity and transports it to where it is needed. Electric power is produced by a patented axle-generation process that harvests mechanical energy as the axles turn and converts this energy to electric power via on-board generators. The electricity is stored in a bank of on-board batteries and is available for use in either DC or AC (120/240V). 


REMOTA™ microgrid trailers are available in a number of power capacity configurations.  

How does the REMOTA™ microgrid help improve sustainability and logistics?

Many large utility customers, including military installations, hospital campuses and universities, are considering microgrids to better manage energy usage and enhance power quality and system reliability. In addition to greater “energy security,” microgrids offer a variety of economic benefits ranging from greater efficiency of operation to the ability to facilitate participation in demand response and interruptible rate programs provided by the local utility. 

 While the use of distributed generation, backup power for critical loads, and the ability to self‐generate power in an island disconnected from the grid is not new, the term “microgrid” is gaining popularity and focus of government and commercial power users. Microgrids can take many forms, but for the purposes of this white paper a microgrid includes integration and control of multiple local generation and storage assets (diesel generators, combustion turbines, PV arrays, battery systems, etc.) to provide on‐site generation for local loads in both grid‐tied and islanded modes of operation. This follows the current DOE definition of a microgrid. 

The U.S. Department of Energy’s official definition of a microgrid is “a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid (and can) connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid‐connected or island‐mode.”

The advantages of power quality, generation on-the-go, secure backup and reduced fuel consumption are essential to today’s fixed and mobile systems during not only normal operations, but during natural disasters. The REMOTA™ array is a unique, trailer-mounted energy generation and storage solution that is designed to work with existing energy assets providing power when and where it’s needed.

Drivers for Microgrids 

By allowing multiple generation assets to provide power for a common load, microgrids greatly increase both the reliability of power and its efficiency of generation. Typically, the greatest beneficiaries of microgrids are customers with large, mission critical facilities or large power consumers in areas prone to frequent and/or prolonged outages (e.g. hurricane zones). Although facilities like these have utilized on site generation in the past, they are starting to migrate towards microgrids due to the many examples of single generators failing during prolonged outages thereby leaving the entire mission in jeopardy. In addition, customers in areas which are experiencing greater stress on the transmission and distribution system (e.g., northeastern U.S. blackout) 

The U.S. Department of Defense has identified reliability on the commercial electrical grid as a significant vulnerability to their mission; particularly in light of growing threats of cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure (see Defense Science Board Task Force Report on DOD Energy Strategy: "More Fight - Less Fuel", February 2008). This concern was reiterated in an October 2012 speech by Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta. Cyber threats such as Aurora and Stuxnet are real examples of threats to power control and utility systems.

Benefits for Utilities 

Communities have come to rely upon electric utilities to support critical functions such as military installations and hospitals. Severe weather events highlight the potentially devastating impacts of prolonged power outages. Recently, during Hurricane Sandy, a major New York hospital had to evacuate 300 patients after both the utility and backup generators failed. Utilities often bear the brunt of negative public perception and increased regulatory pressure after such incidents, whether justified or not. Both utilities and their customers supporting critical operations benefit from the increased reliability that microgrids provide, particularly in times of disaster. 

Over the past few years, there have been a number of other high profile natural disasters that have crippled the power infrastructure.  Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina resulted in over 1.7 Million people losing their power, some for several weeks.  Other catastrophes include severe weather outbreaks such as the tornadoes that crippled the Southeastern U.S. in April, 2011, and more recently, the EF5 tornado that devastated central Oklahoma. These storms all resulted in significant power disruption and loss of life.

Maintaining the power grid is not an easy job.  Substation maintenance, system repairs and operations during normal and severe weather put forth challenges for the infrastructure that goes beyond just power loss. For instance, when power is lost over a widespread area due to tornadoes or other natural disasters, failure to perform repairs in a timely manner can result in loss of non-contaminated drinking water, food spoilage, elimination of heat/air conditioning (especially for critical areas such as assisted living, schools, etc.) and inability for service stations to pump gas for rescue effort vehicles that may need to operate on 24 hour shifts.  Having mobile power and energy is a key asset to ensuring smooth utility operation and recovery.

REMOTA™ Trailers are Unique

The REMOTA™ platform utilizes a patented axle-mounted energy harvesting generator (U.S. Patent 7514803) and renewable integration capability to improve the fuel efficiency of equipment, vehicles, and long term operations.  It utilizes modular energy storage, or “power blocks”, that can be connected to the power infrastructure of a mobile trailer/vehicle. When used for load-leveling generators, fuel reductions in excess of 40% are possible.  This is possible when incorporated with existing diesel generators, renewable generation and grids.

In addition to enabling less fuel consumption, the energy storage will also enable uninterruptable, secure backup power, provide power and energy where it currently does not exist (especially during natural disasters), improve power quality and manage intermittent renewable energy sources when operating for extended periods in remote areas. By using a plug and play modular approach, various amounts of energy storage can be integrated within the REMOTA™ trailer to accommodate a number of different power and energy needs. This assures that the right amount of power and energy are available for each unique situation.  Plus, plug and play capability with standard generators and grid assures ease of integration with existing systems.

The REMOTA™ trailer technology can be applied to various systems that support utility maintenance and recovery operations.  It can be integrated into trailered gensets, lighting systems, and trailers for utility vehicles so that charging can occur while in-transit. When integrated with renewable systems, extended recovery operations can be realized and recovery can be accelerated due to this added capability.

When connected to a recovery vehicle the REMOTA™ on-board smart controller also allows the axle-mounted generator to provide torque-assist (for better fuel economy of the towing vehicle or to assist trailer recovery if it gets stuck).  It also provides a charging source capability for the on-board energy storage while the vehicle/trailer pair is on the move. The REMOTA™ array can significantly improve fuel economy of the towing vehicle by utilizing the on-board energy storage to provide motive power.  Upon completion of the mission, the renewable systems can be deployed to recharge the battery systems, potentially demonstrating a significant fuel economy increase to the vehicle with a near net-zero energy use. 

REMOTA™ PROJECT OVERVIEW and ADVANTAGES over CURRENT TECHNOLOGY   

Over a 24 month period, the REMOTA™ project seeks to validate a comprehensive mobile energy storage, generation, and management solution representing a significant advancement over the current state of the art.  Innovations such as new, high density energy storage solutions will be tested to maximize energy, life, power and safety.  Battery pack innovations, such as air cooling of prismatic cells, rapid charging of prismatic modules, high and low temperature use and extended life at longer ranges will be leveraged to optimize the mobile energy solution and represent distinct advantages for use in extreme or remote locations, in particular. 

A novel, patented, mobile axle-generation system that provides advanced energy harvesting via a dynamic charging enhancement to the REMOTA™ mobile energy storage system will be constructed and demonstrated. Specific end user evaluation and input is a key element of this program. REMOTA™ is a significant advancement over existing mobile power platforms that do not possess this key energy harvesting feature. This will further enhance the benefits of this solution a result of increased mobile platform efficiency and recharging ability.

Novel software and hardware technologies will provide a real time dynamic assessment of distributed energy storage system efficiencies far in excess of conventional methods that are often hindered by OEM-driven limitations.  Current OEM solutions are only vertically integrated with their own proprietary platforms and do not offer energy management visibility across other platforms which can seriously limit their performance and value.

The REMOTA™ project consists of the REMOTA™ mobile energy platform with e-Mobility Decisionware as a fully integrated solution:

1.    REMOTA™ - Designed specifically as a mobile “energy expansion” platform configured initially to produce a minimum of 10 – 30 kilowatt hours (kWh), using advanced battery, fuel cell and generation technologies to enable expanded and stable energy distribution and to increase overall energy efficiencies.

2.   e-Mobility Decisionware - Real-time, interrogative and dynamic software and hardware technologies for the management of distributed energy linking any and all fleet and energy management systems for decision intelligence with energy safety and performance monitoring which includes an advanced agnostic, multiple-chemistry battery management technology.

3. Integrated Solution - Provides a unique combination of breakthrough technologies for superior on-line, real-time, interrogative and/or remote management of disparate energy storage devices and systems that can be effectively deployed to directly connect to the grid for enhanced grid power management or to hybridize generators reducing costly fuel usage or to independently recharge electric equipment or vehicles where grid power is not otherwise available.

Innovative elements of this project include axle-generated electricity, advanced battery technology, battery sensing, analysis, on-line remote control, predictive and artificial intelligence algorithms and telematics technology. The battery system utilized in this proposal is a new chemistry that has shown outstanding potential that will benefit from field testing in realistic environments. Utilizing this new technology and its rapid charge capability presents a significant opportunity to utilize this system in real-world environments and conditions.

REMOTA™ TECHNICAL APPROACH - Project Objectives

Over a 24 month period, the REMOTA™ team anticipates producing 10 prototype systems in two configurations followed by 10 production-ready systems. The team plans to demonstrate fuel reductions in excess of 40% while generating a minimum of 10.8 to 72 kilowatt hours of energy at test facilities and with end users. 

Team - Prior and Current Work:  The REMOTA™ project purpose is to fully develop and demonstrate a comprehensive mobile energy solution coupled with a significant energy information and management system to meet utility, military and industrial applications. The REMOTA™ team represents breakthrough technologies and energy conservation methodologies that span the energy, transportation, and information technology sectors.  The development team includes Principal Investigator, Mike Marcel, PhD, the energy services group, Agrisa LLC and its principal, Scott Pogue, CEM, Hopco, Inc. and its VP of Operations, David Hopper, CEM, and Green Fleet Solution and its Managing Partner, Y.M. Delaune. All project-related activities will be coordinated by the Southern Energy Technology Institute and its management team. 

Every aspect of the program’s core innovations (sensors, telematics, battery technology, energy storage and generation technologies), have been pioneered by the respective team members in direct collaboration with military and OEM partners. Key elements of the monitoring capability have been modeled through research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Penn State Applied Research Laboratories. 

Testing:  REMOTA™ test and evaluation sites will include utility partners and future military locations.  Energy storage components will be fully tested, validated and configured in the lab facilities for the initial ten REMOTA™ platforms. After the completion of this six month design, lab testing and model validation phase, a three-phase field testing protocol will begin. 1) Field testing with automotive engineers up to six months; 2) end-user testing at key utility installations for up to six months; 3) end-user testing for nine to twelve months with disaster relief and management companies. Testing will be guided by the project leadership team supported by utility partners and steered by an R&D Technical Advisory Group.

Battery and other systems testing will be conducted under the guidance of Mike Marcel, PhD and Project Principal Investigator. Testing facilities include office space, cell production, module production, and pack production as well as an ultra-modern test lab with thermal chambers for environmental testing. Engineering for motive and mission critical battery modules and packs occurs here with test facilities available for end-of-line testing of completed packs as well as developmental validation, production validation testing, isolated tests of full duty cycles on battery packs. 

REMOTA™ PROJECTED COSTS and PATH FORWARD

Initial prototypes have demonstrated proof of concept. Next generation prototypes will include improved battery technology (lithium ion) and permanent magnet alternator systems for lower speed electricicty generation. The total REMOTA™ budget consists of an Opening Phase for which includes 3 tracks of initial development stages:  1) REMOTA™platform design; 2) energy storage and generation configurations; 3) eMobility Decisionware™ along with the corresponding prototype testing and validation followed by the Second Phase which includes producing the comprehensive integrated solution and field testing and then concluding with the Final Phase which includes the Monitoring and Verification of Solution Integrity and Performance with end users.

The Mobile Energy Solution Market is comprised of military organizations, utility companies, disaster management organizations, energy services and other industrial and commercial companies.  Each customer segment offers distinct value and opportunities.  Overall pricing per mobile platform is dependent on platform size and capabilities along with the amount of energy stored and produced.  As the platform size, features and the kWh output increases, so does the price. However, post project, the initial unit prices are estimated to range from $25,500 - $95,000 for four different size power platforms ranging in capacity from 14 to 56 kWh. 

 Conclusion

There are many drivers for large utility customers to consider implementation of microgrids such as the REMOTA™ renewable, mobile power trailerIncreasing incidents of serious storms causing long‐term power outages in densely populated areas and new threats such as cyber‐attacks are highlighting vulnerabilities to critical missions. The growing availability of financial incentives including demand response and grid services make on‐site power generation more viable. There are many scenarios and regions of the country where both utilities and customers can benefit from a properly implemented and operated microgrid through improved power reliability and more efficient energy generation