Microgrids are highly localized distribution systems that connect distributed energy resources, or DERs, with multiple loads. The systems can operate independently from a bigger utility grid for extended periods of time without any service interruption. Microgrids are a great solution for utilities interested in creating new relationships with their customers, as the systems offer an innovative approach to support local reliability and aid their own efforts of demand-response and emergency-recovery. Continue reading to learn how microgrids help electricity companies meet customer needs.
Grid-connected Facility Microgrids
Since no two power distribution systems or customers are the same, microgrids are typically highly customized. However, each microgrid will fall into one of four categories, including grid-connected facility microgrids, grid-connected community microgrids, off-grid facility microgrids, and off-grid community microgrids.
Grid-connected facility microgrids serve single-owner facilities, including buildings or data centers where main grid reliability isn’t sufficient. The commercial building or corporate-owned data center may also have a utility that is offering the possibility to save money on energy bills with time-of-use tariffs. In this category of microgrids, the equipment and operations might be managed by an independent service provider.
Grid-connected Community Microgrids
As the word “community” implies, this category of microgrids serves multiple consumers and producers in business campuses, green villages, or small municipalities. Their goals may include optimizing energy costs, increasing resiliency, and integrating renewable energy sources. District administrators will manage these microgrids to maximize consumption of locally produced energy and to participate in incentive programs with electricity companies.
Off-grid Facility Microgrids
This category of microgrids includes systems that are mainly developed by independent power producers. This is the most common microgrid arrangement operating globally today, as it serves remote areas where utility connects aren’t available.
Off-grid Community Microgrids
These microgrids serve remote community locations and bring together multiple assets, such as renewable energy and wind generation, to support essential community services. These systems typically replace or supplement diesel generators to help minimize fuel dependency while cutting costs and reducing pollution.
Digital Grid Unleashed
These four microgrid applications offer electricity companies new options for growing their relationships with new and long-time customers, and push them to develop customer-oriented service business models. The microgrids create a helpful solution where utilities, prosumers, and service providers all work together to reach beneficial outcomes for everyone, including increased resilience, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability. Schneider Electric’s report, titled “Digital Grid Unleashed” outlines the fact that this shift can pose challenges, but also opportunities for growth. Read the report here to learn how utilities are succeeding in today’s decarbonized, digitized, and decentralized energy systems.
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