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Microgrid Momentum: Building Efficient, Resilient Power

Microgrid Momentum: Building Efficient, Resilient Power

Full Title: Microgrid Momentum: Building Efficient, Resilient Power
Author(s): Doug Vine,Donna Attanasio & Ekundayo Shittu
Publisher(s): Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Full Text: Download Resource
Description (excerpt):

When Hurricane Sandy cut off power to millions of homes and businesses in the Northeast, a few areas, mostly parts of universities, kept the lights on using their own power generation systems. This ability to sustain electricity service during widespread natural disasters is one reason for the growing interest in microgrids. But they offer other important benefits as well. By increasing efficiency, integrating renewables, and helping manage energy supply and demand, microgrids can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy. For utilities, microgrids can ensure power reliability in remote areas. Microgrids also appeal to those who want to disconnect from utility bills.

In this paper, a microgrid (Figure 1) is defined as a relatively small, controllable power system composed of one or more generation units connected to nearby load that can be operated with, or independently from, the local distribution and bulk (i.e. high-voltage) transmission system, referred to as the “macrogrid” in this paper. Microgrids can run on renewables, natural gas-fueled combustion turbines, or emerging sources such as fuel cells or even small modular nuclear reactors. They can power critical facilities after a weather- or security-related outage to the broader grid, or be the main electricity source for a hospital, university, or neighborhood. Single-user microgrids, such as those that serve an industrial site or military base, have existed for decades. But the current interest includes systems that can better integrate generation resources and load, serve multiple users, and/or meet environmental or emergency response objectives.

Microgrids are not a traditional or typical infrastructure investment for utilities, nor has the existing electric power industry been structured to facilitate development of microgrids by non-utilities. This research paper seeks to identify financial and legal barriers to the development of microgrids and provide recommendations for overcoming them.

All statements and/or propositions in discussion prompts are meant exclusively to stimulate discussion and do not represent the views of, its Partners, Topic Directors or Experts, nor of any individual or organization. Comments by and opinions of Expert participants are their own.

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