Microgrids Should Be a Key Element in Power Grid Modernization
Modernization of the U.S. power grid will not only require replacement of old components with new ones, it will also need to account for larger amounts of renewable energy and distributed generation. This movement is causing utilities to consider microgrids as a part of the solution.
“The industry is rethinking how to build the generation and distribution network to more cost-effectively deliver reliable electric service,” said Jason Abiecunas, Distributed Generation Service Area Lead in Black & Veatch’s power business. “A new generation of low-carbon microgrids is emerging and shifting the way energy is produced, distributed and consumed.”
The idea of deploying microgrids is gaining momentum across the United States. A total of 124 microgrids with a combined capacity of 1,169 megawatts (MW) were operating across the nation as of July 2015, according to Pew Research. The group also predicted that microgrid capacity will grow to exceed 2,850 MW by 2020, an increase of almost 145 percent. Market revenue is expected to soar as well, rising nearly 270 percent to total over $3.5 billion.
Part of this recent surge is prompted by recent extreme weather events that have caused extended grid outages across the Northeast. These high-profile events have served as catalysts for federal, state and local governments to take action.
“Microgrids have emerged as a powerful tool in building a more resilient and sustainable power grid,” Abiecunas said.