One of the byproducts of the surge in renewable power and smart technology has been the expansion of microgrids. According to recent reports, the systems are expanding nationwide.
In June, market research firm GTM Research noted that 13 newly commissioned U.S. microgrid projects have been deployed in the first six months of the year. The company forecasts a 30 percent increase in the cumulative operational capacity of microgrids to more than 3.7 gigawatts by the year 2020.
GTM notes that while renewables currently account for only about 10 percent of current microgrid capacity, that number is certain to change. It has doubled since last year and renewables account for almost half of the new microgrid capacity in the pipeline.
Strong growth in microgrids is also supported by the demonstrated interest of utilities. Microgrids have traditionally been deployed at the receiving end of the distribution system by customers who were trying to improve on the service they received from the utility. According to market research firm Navigant, even that dynamic is changing as utilities themselves are deploying microgrids in greater numbers.
According to the report titled “Utility Distribution Microgrids,” released in June, utilities across the United States are deploying utility distribution microgrids (UDMs) as a tool to better manage distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar power. Navigant reports that 29 megawatts (MW) of new UDM capacity was deployed across the United States last year, representing an estimated $161 million in implementation revenue. By 2024, those numbers are expected to increase to 241 MW annually, with corresponding annual revenue of $917 million.