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Trystar’s Microgrid: A Sustainable Solution for Resilient Power

by Anna

In 2018, a tornado disrupted operations at Trystar in Faribault, Minnesota, prompting the electrical equipment designer and manufacturer to reevaluate its energy infrastructure. Concerns about an aging and overstressed grid, coupled with a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, led Trystar to design and build its own microgrid, enhancing its resilience against power outages.

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While a conventional emergency power system involves significant capital investment, Trystar opted for a focused and sustainable standby solution, providing enough power to ensure safety, limited production, and lighting during an outage. The company collaborated with a system integrator and power utility provider, analyzing its energy needs and selecting a combination of sustainable energy sources: solar, wind, and a battery energy storage system (BESS).

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The first phase involved installing 320 solar panels on the factory roof, generating 172.8 kW of potential output. Simultaneously, a 232 kWh BESS, comprised of lithium batteries, was installed to store excess energy from the solar panels and two 3.5 kW wind turbines. A 350 kW natural gas standby generator was also incorporated to supplement charging during extended outages and address peak demands.

Trystar actively participated in the microgrid’s design and engineering, creating a breaker pair with a controller for automatic transfer switch (ATS) capability. The system constantly monitors energy production and consumption, adjusting energy flow based on demand. The microgrid, featuring a smart control scheme developed in-house, serves daily peak shaving needs and prioritizes energy delivery during high-demand periods.

Aaron Padrnos, Sr. Manager of Customer Experience at Trystar, highlighted the microgrid’s role as a practical laboratory, leading to the development of a 3000-amp transfer switch and a master controller to coordinate various power sources. The microgrid not only ensures operational continuity during outages but also supports sustainability goals, allowing Trystar to sell excess energy back to the utility.

Inspired by its microgrid success, Trystar designed the GridPak, a portable microgrid solution, incorporating solar panels, a BESS, and a natural gas generator. The GridPak provides a cleaner alternative to traditional portable generators, aligning with Trystar’s commitment to sustainable energy solutions.

Padrnos emphasized that the microgrid represents a significant step in protecting natural resources, ensuring operational resilience, and contributing to the broader journey towards sustainability. Trystar’s microgrid showcases how companies can leverage their expertise to create innovative, sustainable, and resilient energy solutions.

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