Adobe Stock/Simon Kraus

The electrical grids in Brooklyn and Queens have started to struggle to keep up with the amount of energy the city demands. So, the energy company, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), put out a call for smaller-scale energy projects that could alleviate some of the demand from the struggling Brooklyn-Queens grid.

A microgrid project at the Marcus Garvey Village apartments, an affordable housing complex in Brownsville, Brooklyn, stood out for it's innovative system, which contains 400 kilowatts of rooftop solar, a 400 kilowatt natural-gas fuel cell, and a battery system that can store up to 1,200 kilowatt-hours of energy.

Fast Company's Eillie Anzilotti writes:

On the property, the upgrades are unobtrusive. The fuel cell is stored in the main control room, the rooftop solar glints in the view from the elevated subway tracks that bisect the development, and the battery–stored in a shipping-container-like structure–is tucked next to a row of apartments. An open space next to the apartment complex’s main office was under consideration for the new ConEd substation; it’s now a playground for kids.

Even though the microgrid system is all but invisible, it’s making an impact on the property. Energy demand for the whole apartment complex, which spans eight city blocks and 625 residential units, peaks at around 1.5 megawatts in the summer, and three megawatts in the winter. The microgrid system can generate and distribute around 1.1 megawatts of power, and for any additional energy needs, it can tap back into the grid. But for the most part, says Nick Lombardi, project lead for the energy company Enel X, which developed the Marcus Garvey microgrid, the project is designed to sustain the whole housing development by relying on the grid as little as possible. And as an added bonus, ConEd pays the Marcus Garvey Village for using its own energy during times of extreme energy consumption and grid activity, like during a heat wave.

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