Renewable generation is not the only innovation driving change in the nation’s energy infrastructure; microgrids are also on the rise. A study by the market research firm Guidehouse Insights makes a strong case for the economic benefits of microgrids as the nation transitions to renewable power sources.
“The Renewable Energy Economic Benefits of Microgrids” was published in the fourth quarter of 2021. It was commissioned by the Civil Society Institute (CSI), the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Millennial Action Project (MAP) to highlight the economic benefits of microgrids.
The Guidehouse study analyzes the national state of renewable energy microgrids, and it looks closely at two case studies in California and Puerto Rico, examining six different renewable microgrid technologies: solar, wind, hydro, storage, biomass and microgrid controls. The study makes the argument that microgrids’ benefits are economical and practical.
Through its case study analysis, Guidehouse found that microgrids have created 4,670 jobs and contributed $0.85 billion in GDP and $1.76 billion in business sales for California as of 2021. In Puerto Rico, microgrids have created 163 jobs and contributed $26.94 million in GDP and $53.2 million in business sales.
The study also found that microgrids have several practical benefits related to resiliency and the integration of renewables. They make it easier to deploy the distributed generation of renewable power while increasing resiliency in the face of extreme weather events brought on by climate change. Microgrids increase efficiency in transmission lines by reducing the need to transmit large loads of energy over long distances. Finally, they improve grid management by helping to reduce congestion.
These factors are contributing to the strong national growth of microgrids. The study projects the national market will more than triple by 2030, creating nearly 500,000 jobs and generating $72.3 billion in GDP.