The Microgrid Learning Series: Introduction and Overview

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by Marilyn Walker, Ph.D. on September 5, 2012

Welcome to the first in a series of articles about microgrids, written specifically for people interested in clean energy and clean tech but without a background in power system engineering. If you have an interest in renewable energy, and in maximizing how much renewable energy is used throughout the world, then you should have some fundamental understanding of what microgrids are and how they operate.

If you’re already wondering, “What the heck is a microgrid, anyway?” you’re in the right place. Before we go into what a microgrid is, however, let’s look at what a microgrid has the potential to do:

  • Increase the amount of renewable energy contributing to power needs, both locally and on the grid overall
  • Combine renewable and other power sources
  • Provide power in places where there is no grid
  • Provide more reliable power in places served by a grid
  • Increase the stability and reliability of the power grid

A very simple definition of a microgrid is an independent energy system providing grid backup or off-grid power. Our first article is going to focus on the definition and its meaning, and to look at variations on the definition.

Although we may change this outline as the series develops, here are the topics that we hope to cover in the coming days and weeks:

  • Will the real microgrid please stand up? (What is a microgrid and why should I care?)
  • Is it a microgrid?
  • Microgrids for island power
  • Microgrids for telecom
  • Microgrids for village power
  • Microgrids for the home owner
  • Microgrids for community power
  • Microgrids for expeditionary power
  • Microgrids for backup power – when power is essential
  • Microgrids and the smart grid
  • Why the microgrid market is poised to grow
  • How are microgrids developed?

If you have topics that you’d like us to cover, or have any questions about microgrids, please leave a comment below.

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This article was written by HOMER Energy, leading the way in making microgrids a viable solution throughout the world. HOMER is the exclusive distributor of the HOMER® (Hybrid Optimization of Multiple Energy Resources) energy modeling software – the world’s leading tool for designing and analyzing microgrid power systems. The HOMER software solves the complex problem of incorporating renewable power, storage, and load management into a microgrid. HOMER is recognized as the industry standard by Pike Research, the U.S. Department of Defense, the World Bank, and its over 80,000 users in 193 countries. For more information, visit

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