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Research firm forecasts microgrid boom

 Posted by on March 12, 2010
Mar 122010

From Green Right Now Reports

Image: Pike Research

Image: Pike Research

With Americans focusing more and more on streamlining their energy consumption and reducing costs, microgrids may become an increasing part of the solution. Smart integration that can allow communities, companies or institutions to operate “off the grid” is not only attractive, but is rapidly becoming a genuine alternative.

Microgrids are “islanded” power generation and distribution zones that operate autonomously from the larger electrical grid. A new report from Pike Research predicts that more than 3 GW of new microgrid capacity will be come online globally by 2015 at a total investment of $7.8 billion. The firm expects more than 2,000 sites to be operational worldwide by 2015, up from fewer than 100 in 2010.

Pike sees North America as the biggest player, accounting for 74 percent of industry capacity. Researchers anticipate that most of that will come in the form of institutional microgrids, followed by commercial/industrial and community grids.

In Europe and Asia Pacific, community microgrids are forecast as the largest categories.

As the current top-down system becomes increasingly unreliable and insecure and isn’t always friendly to renewable power generation, microgrids may gain appeal, with the potential to be part of a larger effort to create a Smart Grid that can add intelligence and automation while giving customers greater control over consumption.

“The distinguishing feature of a microgrid is the ability to separate and isolate itself from the utility’s distribution system during brownouts and blackouts,” says Pike Research managing director Clint Wheelock. “This degree of localized control is compelling for many microgrid proponents during this time of increasing concern over grid reliability.”