Microgrids shift from pilot to commercial installs

Factors from rising fuel costs and dropping PV prices, to remote application interest, are bringing microgrids into the mainstream for a diverse base of electricity users, shows Pike Research.

December 29, 2011 — Microgrids, which integrate distributed energy generation from renewable and fossil fuel power resources, are up from 166 projects in Q2 2011 to 269, shows Pike Research’s Microgrid Deployment Tracker. New application areas are opening up in commercial, community, institutional, military, and remote installations. Pike notes that microgrids are attracting more mainstream attention.

“A wide range of electricity users are demonstrating strong demand for power generation and distribution systems that can be operated independently from the utility grid,” said senior analyst Peter Asmus. Concerns about grid reliability and rising fuel costs, combined with increased distributed power generation, and falling prices for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, are driving microgrid adoption, pushing the grid technology out of pilot program status.

Also read: Campus microgrids a $777M market by 2017

The IEEE P1547.4 islanding standards were adopted in July 2011, which Asmus also credits for the shift from pilot validation projects to real-market use. Since 2009, a handful of large commercially viable projects have come to light, especially in California as platforms for aggregation of distributed renewable resources; and in New York, with combined heat and power (CHP) units as anchor technologies.

Pike Research?s tracker includes details for 269 microgrid projects around the world, up from 166 in the 2Q11 version of the tracker database. The three most active microgrid segments — institutional/campus, military, and remote systems — are creating new projects and new market players. There are now 3 primary subsegments of the remote microgrid sector: village power systems, weak grid island systems, and remote industrial mine systems. Each of these could be a billion-dollar-plus market by 2017.

Pike Research?s tracker report, “Microgrid Deployment Tracker 4Q11,” provides a database of worldwide microgrid projects in commercial/industrial, community/utility, institutional/campus, military, and remote applications. It covers 260 projects. Deployments are segmented by world region, and the tracker includes details on generation capacity, power generation sources, facility type, and companies involved for each project. Access the report at http://www.pikeresearch.com/research/microgrid-deployment-tracker-4q11.

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