Today’s Microgrids: Same Benefits, Less Complexity

October 31, 2018 Jenna Bieller

Not long ago, installing a microgrid was a large, complex infrastructure project — one that required a team of experts and custom-built solutions. It was well worth the investment for many organizations, especially those with mission-critical operations. But the investment was significant.

Today’s microgrids, however, are modular, easier to install, and use a smaller footprint of available and affordable distributed energy resources. As the costs of renewable energy and other forms of cleantech continue to fall, the possibility of a decentralized grid supported by many microgrids is now a reality. Navigant Research projects that by 2026 the ratio of new power supplied by microgrids to new centralized capacity will be more than three to one.

Microgrids are a collection of distributed technologies capable of generating and distributing electrical load either in parallel or islanded from a centralized grid. Often using solar power, microgrids are becoming increasingly plug-and-play, where if something is not working, the part can be replaced rather than the system, reducing maintenance costs. This also make initial setup—and future expansion—less complicated and expensive. As a result, a microgrid can provide immediate dividends.

Need more reasons to invest in today’s modular microgrids? Here are a few of the business benefits:

Enable new financial opportunities

Microgrids can provide new opportunities to avoid peak load charges and take advantage of times when rates are cheaper. Schneider Electric recently partnered with Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve and Faith Technologies to build a microgrid that can autonomously configure into a range of different permutations to produce the most efficient, clean and cost-effective combination of energy resources available at any given time. Energy pricing and resource availability can change minute by minute, so this modular, scalable, repeatable microgrid technology will help the Nature Preserve unlock better financial sustainability.

Reduced emissions

Sixty-three percent of Fortune 100 companies have set one or more clean energy targets. One way to make progress towards clean energy goals is to deploy a microgrid. One study estimated that renewable energy microgrids offer up to 66.3 percent greenhouse gas emissions reductions compared to the existing energy system.

Increased resilience

Microgrids can often withstand weather conditions that centralized grids cannot. Recent events have shown microgrids can play an important part in storms, wildfires and extreme weather events. During the recent wildfires in California, microgrids provided continuous power autonomously during widespread outages, keeping vital functions such as irrigation running throughout. Faced with Hurricane Florence's powerful winds and record rainfall, North Carolina's solar farms held up with only minimal damage while other parts of the electricity system failed.

Ready to learn more? Get additional details on microgrids and find out “How to Build Resilient Infrastructure.” And download our new ebook: Don’t’ Risk Resilience: 5 Threats & 5 Opportunities.

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