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World energy scenario has been changing in a fast way during the last decades with a substantial increase in energy demand that energy efficiency improvements and energy savings have only been able to alleviate, but not to fully compensate. This is not the only reason for the serious energy problem to be confronted nowadays:  high dependence in fossil fuels, in the order of the 85% in the global system, aggravates the situation due to the scarcity of these primary resources and their excessive environmental impact. These two facts: needs for a substantial increase in energy generation and avoidance of a massive dependence on fossil fuels, force to introduce in the energy consumption scheme a big contribution from renewable energies. This high participation of renewable energies is required not only for grid connected applications, but also in stand-alone systems where renewable energies can be a solution to the energy needs in not interconnected zones.

Microgrid LabDER

Conventional renewable energy sources, i.e.: solar photovoltaic, biomass and wind power, have reached a mature level of technical development as to be possible to base on them the progressive substitution of fossil fuels in the future energy scenarios. Economic viability of this substitution is more complicated due to the higher prices of these technologies, but economy scale reductions, as the production of renewable systems increases, could alleviate this problem. Major problem for this penetration of renewable energies is linked to the feasibility of these sources, especially in stand-alone applications, but also in grid connected systems when the total contribution of renewable reaches the needed value for sustainability of the energy sector. Possible solutions to this feasibility problem include the combination of several renewable sources in a hybrid system or the addition to the system of energy storage, or both together in a complete system. Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems (HRES) are becoming a possible solution due to the advances in renewable energies technology and associated power electronics. By combining two or more renewable systems it could be possible to obviate the problem of reliability of each of them and get, in addition, improvements in the total energy efficiency of the system when compared with the corresponding values of each of the systems separately. In summary, HRES could allow for the remediation of the limitations of renewable energies in terms of fuel flexibility, reliability and economics.

Given this potential, many studies have been completed to simulate and optimize the design of HRES, but before the construction of such kind of systems an experimental verification of their capabilities at the minimum significant power is advisable. With this goal, a laboratory has been assembled at the Institute for Energy Engineering of the Polytechnic University of Valencia that allows to assembly HRES combining different renewable sources: photovoltaic, wind, biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, all of the interconnected by a controlled microgrid that supplies to a demand curves simulator, to verify the capability of the selected HRES to satisfy this demand with high reliability. Additionally, there is the capability to storage energy, both in batteries and hydrogen, to cover all the possible HRES configurations.  

LabDER is located inside the  campus of Vera at the Universitat Politècnica de València.