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The Power Of Microgrids

By Gerry Fox

Navigant Research forecasts that the worldwide microgrid market will grow to more than 4,000 megawatts in capacity by 2020. However, policymakers must emphasize standards and create a regulatory environment that supports this growth.

Over a year ago in Electricity Today Magazine, I articulated how the North American power sector might move from centralized power to a national network of microgrids. Since then, the vision and its practical details have come into sharper focus.

Modernizing the distribution grid is not only a job-producing super-project, but also a protocol for innovation, organizing the creation and distribution of electricity-enabled high-quality services through thousands of smart microgrids. Such microgrids include office and industrial parks, military bases, college campuses, large buildings, and entire communities—each microgrid and nearly every node serve both as suppliers as well as users of electricity. In effect, the microgrid is a local electricity refinery, raising the reliability, resilience, security, efficiency and quality of the electricity services and supply.

This modus operandi is within reach now in niche applications, as demonstrated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) projects, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) bases’ modernization projects. Currently,, and At least 23 ongoing  microgrid implementations are occurring across the United States as well as many projects in China, Japan, South Korea, India, Austria, and the European Union.

However, beyond niche deployments, a major blocker to worldwide microgrid adoption is uncertainty among end users’ on returns on investment, which vendors and manufacturers can effectively manage by tailoring the solution architecture and project implementation schedule to meet the end user’s requirements

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