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Microgrid capacity continues to grow worldwide

09/02/2018
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As of the fourth quarter of 2017, there were 1,869 microgrid projects worldwide- representing a total capacity of 20.7GW- according to a new report from consulting firm Navigant Research.

Projects were identified across a total of 123 countries with the majority being small-scale, with the exception being the 2.2GW microgrid installed at the Saudi Aramco gas-oil separation plant in Shaybah, Saudi Arabia.
A microgrid project in Germany.
(A microgrid project in Germany. Image via Wikipedia)

With regards to the geographic distribution of microgrid projects, Asia-Pacific and North America led the way, accounting for almost three-quarters of all microgrid capacity.

According to one researcher, the report contains at least one surprising finding, “the major shift in this update is the Middle East and Africa jumping to third place among all regions with more than 3GW of total capacity.”

The global growth of microgrids has occurred across seven key microgrid segments:
 
  • Commercial and Industrial (C&I).

  • Community.

  • Utility distribution.

  • Institutional / campus.

  • Military.

  • Remote.

  • Direct Current (DC).
  • There are currently 1,869 microgrid projects worldwide.
    Why microgrids?

    As the report from Navigant Research illustrates, microgrids are growing in popularity. But what exactly are they, and what benefits are associated with them?

    Definition

    A microgrid is typically a group of energy sources located in the same local area that is in turn connected into the main national grid while also being able to disconnect from it and operate independently, for example in the event of an electricity outage.

    Benefits of microgrids

    Microgrids bring many benefits to communities and wider society:

  • Improving local energy delivery- microgrids provide more choice to local communities and institutions with regard to what energy generating technologies are used, improving local energy delivery and consumption.

  • Increased reliability- microgrids improve energy security and resilience thanks to their ability to operate independently of the main national grid. If the main grid experiences a power outage, the microgrid can simply utilise management system software and smart energy devices such as smart switches and sensors to maintain energy supply.

  • Cost savings- microgrids typically incorporate smart energy systems which means they are able to make energy consumption far more efficient- thus saving money!

  • Revenue generation- microgrids will often incorporate renewable energy technologies such as solar or wind meaning that at times, they generate more power than they can use. Thanks to the feed-in tariffs that many countries have, this energy can be fed into the main grid, generating revenue for the users of the microgrid.

  • Combating climate change- due to the highly efficient smart technology, and renewable energy sources that are often part of microgrids, communities are better able to cut their carbon emissions and help to combat climate change.

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