The Progression of the Microgrid
From Wall Street to Main Street, deploying microgrid technology integrated with storage has captured the attention of futurists and business people alike. Last April Wal-Mart launched 17 microgrid projects, all in California, including six 200kW / 400kWh solar-tied batteries that are now shaving the peak demand profiles of these stores. A test market of homeowners in Brooklyn is now able to sell excess energy to their neighbors over blockchain currency, which further advances the potential of microgrids in our communities. In 2014, CivicSolar provided the equipment and design for a fully off-grid island located off the coast of Panama. Increasingly, microgrids are moving from concept to project.
What is a Microgrid?
A microgrid is a small-scale power grid that can operate independently or in coordination with the main electrical grid. Any small-scale localized station with its own power resources, from a small dc-coupled off-grid system to a large grid-tied demand management storage system, qualifies as a microgrid. In other words, microgrids are defined by the lack of a centralized feed-in from one big power plant. For more on microgrid policies in the U.S. see this article.
Solar + storage makes the most sense when grid energy is expensive, unreliable or unavailable. Schneider Electric, a two-century-old electrical energy management solutions company, currently manufactures the XW Conext + Inverter/Charger. This inverter/charger offers single-phase and three-phase options with back feeding functionality. Most importantly, the XW energy conversion from DC to AC is grid-resistant.
With over 1.3 billion people still lacking access to reliable energy, micro-grids are leapfrogging traditional energy grid infrastructure across the globe. Just as solar equipment has fallen in price, storage equipment will too, making for a bright future for local solar generation and storage.