Molly Lempriere, Solar Media
Around the world, communities and companies alike are increasingly looking to microgrids, to help increase resiliency and energy security. In particular, as people turn to intermittent renewables such as solar PV to decarbonise electricity networks, microgrids offer an exciting new alternative to conventional energy networks.
They have proved particularly successful in rural and remote communities, as an economic alternative to expanding national grids. But they are popping up in cities too, often to help secure generation against outages caused by extreme weather such as hurricanes, and to allow people to take greater advantage of self-generation.
In a Global Innovation Report report by Hitachi America, the biggest growing microgrid markets were examined, predicting that worldwide there is likely to be 7,500MW of capacity and a US$35,000 million market by 2024.
As senior vice president and general manager of the Energy Solutions Division of Hitachi America, Alireza Aram, explained in the report: “Against a background of successive natural disasters and terror threats around the world, a steady supply of electricity including measures against power outages is a common social issue for all countries, from the viewpoint of the safety and security of their residents.
“As the introduction of renewable energy proceeds as a measure against global warming, microgrids are looked to as a promising solution to various issues.”
How are microgrids developing though, and how ‘smart’ can a neighbourhood become?