Microgrids are a current hot topic in the power generation industry. It feels like you cannot go more than a couple of days without seeing another article on microgrids. And no wonder – a recent Greentech Media report states that the U.S. installed microgrid capacity is expected to grow 115 percent and reach 4.3GW over the next five years. Outside of the U.S. there is a lot of talk about rural electrification in developing regions – bringing power to remote communities with combinations of clean solar and energy storage to power villages that currently have no power.
What is a microgrid? There are a number of varying definitions for what a microgrid is. Here are points that all of the definitions agree on:
But why all the buzz now? Microgrids are not new – Caterpillar has been providing diesel and gas generator sets for microgrids for decades. What has changed is the emergence of cost-effective renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaics and wind. This has effectively made renewable powered microgrids a financially attractive alternative to more traditional power generation. Add to this the advances in cost-effective energy storage and you can have a reliable system that produces energy at very low costs. This has driven the interest in the “new” microgrid systems.
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