As a RE player iam totally fascinated by the potentiality offered by microgrid as this form of energy generation can function independently from the traditional regional power grid. Furthermore it can with ease fully enable towns, small cities or corporations to develop their own energy sources and power storage systems & distribute or even sell excess power back to local utilities. They also offer a very prompt response during high energy demand times and power outages. Microgrids therefore enable a greater level of penetration for renewable energy with higher efficiency, providing energy savings and carbon footprint reduction. They are here to stay.
While still immature in many countries, there are numerous pilot projects that are paving the way for microgrids. New technology is blossoming in this category. New ground is being broken as utilities and communities work together to protect one of their most precious resources: electricity. In order for the technology to receive its due share, utilities will need to embrace the concept of the microgrid, and how it can both enable and inhibit the business of energy. With knowledge and resources, microgrids can be a vital part ofthe new and upcoming Smart Grid biosphere.
Microgrids are not actually a new or a novel concept . Many sites have traditionally used embedded backup generators for reliability purposes. However the latest technology backed advanced microgrid Ensures a permanent, clean, local generation, the ability to seamlessly connect and disconnect from the main grid, and the use of analytics to run the system at an optimal efficiency level. Microgrids can also be off-grid systems. They can even go beyond electricity and incorporate gas, heat, and district cooling. They generate and distribute electricity on n a localised basis.
Microgrids are comprised of a series of subsystems including their own rooftop photovoltaic generation, wind turbines, generator sets, CHP, energy storage systems and Power distribution systems. Some people tend to think that microgrids are only small-scale grids. Others think any kind of local energy network can be termed a microgrid.
Individual buildings and residential consumers can be considered ‘nanogrids’ if they: a) consume and supply power b) self-consume their own generated electricity and c) isolate themselves from the grid. These smaller microgrid designs can serve residential or commercial loads. They may be configured to provide power to a larger commercial property such as a shopping mall, college campus, or military installation, or even an entire neighborhood. These small grids can be linked together or embedded into larger microgrid.
Microgrids can be categorized into four categories:
Grid-connected facility : With a single owner and connected to the main grid, these microgrids are created for improved reliability in places where the main grid’s reliability is poor, or when the utility is providing attractive pricing incentives for sheddable loads. Some examples are high-availability single buildings, or research or headquarter campuses of a corporation, hospital , data centre, etc.
Grid-connected community : Serving multiple consumers and producers, connected to the main grid, or managed as a unit and with an optimisation of exchanges with the utility’s main grid, these microgrids range from business campuses of cities and green villages to eco-districts or even small municipalities
Off-grid facility-led : This is the most common type of microgrid today. With a single owner, these are found in remote areas not reached by traditional grid. Examples are military bases, remote mines, isolated mountain homes.
Off-grid community-led : Serving multiple consumers and producers, these microgrids are also found where the main grid is out of reach, for example islands, remote villages, and communities. However, unlike facility-led microgrids that serve one corporation/institution, these initiatives encompass various community assets and aim to guarantee resilient power for vital community services.
So why am I sold on Microgrids ? …well because it delivers power at close proximity to its generation point, thereby avoids much of the overhead costs associated with transmitting and distributing energy, including losses inherent in long-distance energy transport. Secondly, because of its key attribute of seamlessly disconnecting and reconnecting to the main grid without supply interruption of loads. Finally, Microgrids powered by wind, solar, or biomass contribute to the overall renewable goal of the green utility and our society, helping reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
SANJITH S. SHETTY