Utilities explore the microgrid value proposition
The existing centralized transmission grid, and the utilities that stand behind it, still provide the majority of power supplies to the industrialized world. But renewable, distributed energy resources (DERs) will play an increasing role in the coming years in providing energy supply, reliability, security, and emergency care services. Aggregation platforms similar to microgrids—which are small-scale collections of diverse generation and loads capable of energy self-sufficiency via “islanding” through new technologies—will be absolutely necessary if energy infrastructure follows in the footsteps of telecommunications and the evolution of today’s Internet.
Utility distribution microgrids (UDMs) are emerging as a new platform that can accommodate innovative technology while also opening up alternative business models to help ensure the longevity of incumbent distribution utilities as the energy industry undergoes radical transformations. In short, microgrids optimize and aggregate diverse resources and allow for two-way exchanges. Think of cell phones replacing landlines in places such as the developing world.