Microgrids, which have long been a dream of the advanced energy industry, are finally becoming a reality and disruptor in the telecom industry. Microgrids, which are small energy systems where small electricity generating sources match demand in a relatively compact amount of space, are gaining footing in the U.S. These systems have been used on islands and in the developing world for some time and can solve energy problems at lower costs, according to the Motley Fool.
Currently, Schneider Electric and Duke Energy are working on a microgrid project for the Montgomery County, Maryland Public Safety Headquarters and Correctional Facility. The system will be used as an emergency back-up and integrate solar and natural gas generators to operate. Utilities and regulators are also looking at using microgrids as a way to offset or defer transmission and distribution investments, which may be more cost effective than upgrading existing infrastructure.
Microgrids are especially useful for islands, remote locations where there’s no access, and industrial applications in rural locations. Tesla already built solar and energy storage on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. A microgrid with 1.4 MW of solar and six MW-hr. of energy storage powers the American Samoan island of Ta’u. SunPower is also building solar plus storage for the French West Indies and Corsica. These microgrids could be a big opportunity to bring electricity to the 1.2 million people in the world still in the dark. In rural areas, microgrids could power cell phone towers, water infrastructure, rest areas, and more, using smart energy generation, storage, and consumption devices, according to Motley Fool.
Microgrid facilities and utilities are the incubators to test these systems; the concept has not gone mainstream just yet. Once viability is proven, international expansion can occur. In the meantime, Mark Cuban predicts that this technology trend could be worth as much as $19.9 trillion.
July 13, 2017