Distributed Energy – Community Microgrids BEST PRACTICES AND THE PROMISING FUTURE OUTLOOK OF LOCALIZED ENERGY
In the past, the microgrid concept has been deployed largely to sites where a single entity—a military base or industrial plant, for example—deploys the microgrid to provide a range of benefits solely accruing to that one entity. However, the community microgrid model, which spreads the benefits of microgrids to a broader set of end users, is on the rise thanks to improvements in technology for integrating diverse loads and systems as well as continuing decreases in the cost of various microgrid-enabling technologies.
With society continually being challenged by natural disasters, such as intense hurricanes, increasing frequency and geographic locations of tornadoes, large-scale forest fires such as those that ravaged California last year, and others, the need to find innovative solutions to protect communities with localized energy solutions has become more pressing, and many are starting to turn to microgrids as an important part of the promising solution.
Many varieties and examples of community microgrids already exist, and many in the industry have unique, defined outcomes. Given the nascent stage of the market, Ameresco’s team of professionals employ a simple, inclusive definition, which is that a community microgrid is essentially a microgrid that encompasses multiple end users. Many imagine a community microgrid as a microcosm of the larger grid, with diverse residential, commercial, and industrial users that can ultimately be served by a comprehensive suite of distributed energy sources (solar, combined heat and power, energy storage, and others).