Julian Spector, GreenTech Media
The burgeoning U.S. microgrid industry is set to install less controllable capacity this year than it did last year. But that setback may prove a temporary blip, especially if a new effort to back up the beleaguered Northern California grid comes to fruition.
The U.S. microgrid market set a record with 666 megawatts of capacity additions in 2018, but project delays and cancellations have dropped the expected 2019 total to 553 megawatts, according to a new report by energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. The methodology tracks controllable clusters of energy devices capable of independently powering 100 kilowatts or more for at least 24 hours.
That definition excludes the typical home solar and battery configuration, which deals with smaller loads. But it captures an up-and-coming market of local energy services for big-box stores, universities, public facilities and military bases. These projects collectively generated an estimated $1.7 billion in capital expenses in 2019, nearly triple the $645 million invested in the U.S. energy storage sector this year.
As more customers become familiar with microgrid options and more jurisdictions face battering storms and wildfires, the prospects for resilient grid infrastructure look strong going forward, said report author Isaac Maze-Rothstein.