Power and grid management are both heavily discussed subjects, with topics ranging from security measures to how to be more efficient. Yet, a new term is now making the rounds in the industry; microgrids. Many are now looking toward microgrids after seeing how it helped institutions such as Princeton University weather the storm and keep their electricity through Superstorm Sandy. Since then, many are beginning to see the power of microgrids and are investing in the technology.
Why Do We Need Microgrids?
Companies that are integrating the technology in their projects are seeing its success. The grid combines renewable energy sources with other forms of energy to help maintain power during challenging climate shifts and secures a reliable energy supply. As Alexander Patt, a project leader with Rolls-Royce Power System’s Microgrid Solutions team, stated, “Microgrids combine clean and cost-effective renewable energies with our reliable generator sets and are thus the future of the power industry.”
For example, a system developed out of Denmark combines power taken from both land- and wind-based power units to power their microgrid customers. A controller looks at the weather of the day and decides if they want to power the grid through solar, wind, or diesel energy. They can use the most economical power source that is readily available for the day. By having this increased flexibility, the grid will be more efficient and save money for customers. They look to have multiple power generation solutions in an industry that doesn’t always have cookie cutter weather patterns.
Microgrids can even be tied to the national grid for a secondary source of power. If a disaster strikes, the batteries die on their own, or if not enough energy is outputted, then customers on the microgrid won’t be left without power.
Where Can We Implement Microgrids?
Thanks to the fact that they are customizable to the needs of the user, microgrids can vary in size. There are both single-user and community-based microgrids. The single-user grids cover military bases, universities, and commercial spaces, while the community ones can be found in suburban and urban locations and tend to rely on existing utility infrastructure. Through the combination of microgrids and existing grids, users and communities can have an environmentally-friendly supply of power.
The need for microgrids comes at a time where many companies and businesses can no longer run without a power source to get through the day. It stems from the frustration that many feel when a failure occurs on the power grid. While it can take from 6-12 months to get approval for the microgrid and lots of work, the payouts for having the technology in place far outweigh the time needed to create one.