Renewable Energy Resilience

Nanogrids, Microgrids and Virtual Power Plants

Expert on new energy business models such as nanogrids, microgrids and virtual power plants, covering cutting edge energy and environmental issues for over 25 years.

Filtering by Tag: Microgrids

Postcard from Hawaii to the Nation's Capital

The mood at the second annual VERGE conference in Honolulu, Hawaii last week was upbeat about the future of clean energy, despite pushback on the U.S. mainland. Apparently, those committed to a clean energy agenda, including the private sector, are more motivated than ever to push forward with aggressive programs to bring on-line renewables resources to not only to combat climate change, but to create jobs.

Conference attendees clearly supported the supposition that clean energy is here to stay, no matter what might be unfolding in Washington, D.C.The proposed dismantling of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and recent withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Accord on climate change only seemed to serve as motivation to push forward even harder.

Hawaii is the first (and so far) only state in the U.S. to commit to a 100% renewable energy future. Gov. David Ige of Hawaii didn’t seem to blink in the face of counter currents flowing from the Trump administration. A confessed energy geek, he seemed to take particulardelight in the fact that Hawaii has emerged as a key testing ground for bolstering commitments to infrastructure needed to integrate variable renewables for not only power, but transportation services. Since each island of Hawaii is its own separate electric grid control area, and retail costs are high due to such a reliance upon imported sources of fossil fuel, Hawaii is in a unique spot. The economics here clearly favor renewable energy.

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Microgrids: From Apples to Oranges

The chief challenge with putting together the recently published Leaderboard report on microgrids -- our first ranking of companies active in the microgrid market -- was trying to develop an apples-to-apples comparison. I tried to narrow the field to just developers and integrators with their own controls platforms, but there were still lots of grey areas.

What if we were to turn the general assumption for our leaderboard format on its head? In other words, why not an apples to oranges listing? In this blog, I will go out on a limb and highlight three companies not included in our leaderboard report, but which I think deserves special mention due to their near-term impacts on the overall global microgrid market, regardless of what their role is in this market. In my last blog, I already highlighted two companies, a utility (Commonwealth Edison) and an energy storage and smart grid innovator (S&C Electric) not included in the Leaderboard, both being disqualified for inclusion since the ranking excluded utilities and vendors primarily focused on energy storage integration. 

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Just Like Hot Dogs, Chicago-Style Microgrids Unique

The market for microgrids is evolving, with many utilities shifting their stance from curious bystanders to active participants. Utilities ranging from Duke Energy to San Diego Gas & Electric are building microgrids, with many others scratching their collective heads as they try to figure out what their role might be.

If we take a bird’s eye view, the East Coast seems to be the hot bed for regulatory reforms to enable microgrids primarily in a deregulated policy environment – i.e. the New York Prize funding for 83 projects being the prime example. California is more focused on long-term planning for a rich variety of distributed energy resources (DER.) The country’s heartland is taking yet a different approach, with microgrids that have much more in common with a utility smart grid innovation.

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©2016 Peter Asmus. Photo credit: David Clites. Website by: IMManagers.com