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 www.homerenergy.com.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam Walker October 28, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Hi! Thank you for putting this together.
Would you happen to know what software microgrid operators use to manage their recurring billing?
I’ve been trying to figure this out, but haven’t had much luck.
much apprecaited,
Adam

Reply

Marilyn Walker, Ph.D. October 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I’m not aware of anything focused specifically in that marketplace.

Reply

Asier October 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Did you finally decided to make the Microgrid Learning Series? It seems interesting, specially in order to compare how you looked at the issues to be faced.

At this moment, I am researching on the link between the technical challenges and the socio/enviromental/economic/financing barriers that need to be addressed. Therefore it would be nice to get your view on it, baed on your learning series.

Best regards,

Reply

Marilyn Walker, Ph.D. October 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Hi Asier – Sorry – this series got waylaid by a very fast growing business! But I will be getting back to this and filling in the pieces in the coming weeks. And I’ll be sure to address the challenges that you mention – that is a key piece of it.

Thanks for your interest – it’s great see.

Marilyn

Reply

Vikas Sharma December 3, 2012 at 7:10 am

Dear Dr Marilyn,
Large parts of India don’t yet know what electricity is like. Yesterday a national newspaper highlighted a 14 year power cut in a village shown as ‘electrified’ by the administration. The village had experienced a few hours of electricity when it was connected to the grid 14 years ago. Inspite of the legendary patience of the Indian village people, the politicians are sensing that things will be increasingly tough for them if they don’t show some result fast. And the only way to do it is by renewables and village microgrids. I foresee India to be one of the top three markets for Microgrids in next five years.

Reply

perez November 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I am interested in the entire series

Reply

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