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Microgrids Open New Business Models

By District Energy posted 07-15-2020 13:42




Microgrids offer an “all of the above” approach to distributed generation, incorporating a variety of technologies into their design. As microgrids continue to evolve, incorporating renewable power resources, fuel cells, battery energy storage, diesel and gas generator sets, microturbines, and other technologies, they also provide the opportunity to expand the business models for power producers.

Don Wingate, Vice President Utility & Microgrid Solutions at Schneider Electric, recently provided POWER with his insights about the microgrid market. He noted that technology advancements are allowing more rapid deployments, and also “more repeatable and scalable solutions that can fit different applications.”

Wingate talked about the use cases for microgrids, and how decentralized power generation can provide lower energy costs, while also increasing power quality and providing resilience and reliability. He noted the growth in deployment in areas prone to natural disasters, and also as a way for businesses to enhance their bottom lines.

“The watchwords for us are economic advantage, resilience, and sustainability,” he said. “Today, microgrids make a lot of sense for end users with these goals.”

POWER: Are there new technologies being developed that could be deployed in future microgrids? What are some of the latest advances in microgrid control systems? 

Wingate: We’re seeing the most advancement come in microgrid controllers —what we think of as the brains of the system. They dictate the use cases and how a microgrid is intended to do its job. Microgrid controls are becoming more configurable, more flexible, and less expensive for customers to deploy. 

Additionally, we are now able to deliver pre-packed systems that are configured and tested in a factory setting. All the LV/MV [low voltage/medium voltage] switchgear/breakers/meters/protection devices/controls are assembled, prewired and ready for connection to the distributed resources [photovoltaic, or PV, battery/generator, etc.]. This speeds installation, reduces engineering time, and offers a safe and cost-effective solution for users.

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