The Importance of Future Proofing Microgrid Design

April 26, 2023
Is your microgrid designed to be ready for the next technological evolution?

Technological advancements and regulatory changes are going to drive and propel microgrids well into the future, according to Eric Dupont, senior vice president and chief development officer for PowerSecure.

As a lead up to Microgrid 2023, Dupont sat down with Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge, to discuss what’s next for microgrids.

The 3 Rs

Dupont said that because technologies are evolving at a rapid pace, along with the adoption of renewable fuels, customer expectations are changing too. “That's going to drive new expectations for us in the microgrid space to be able to deliver and meet the customer needs.”

Customers continue to be focused on resiliency, reducing costs and reducing their carbon footprint – the 3 Rs as Dupont calls them. But, he said, “customers aren't really willing and able to pay a premium for renewable technologies,” such as battery energy storage. 

Dupont noted that thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, the economic value of renewable technologies is getting better, but it’s not quite to the point that customers consider them a no-brainer investment.

But microgrids are modular – they can be built over time. That means today’s microgrids need to be set up so they can be ready for the next technological evolution.

The importance of future-proofing

Wood pointed out that storms aren’t going to wait for prices to come down or technology to advance. But because of the modularity of microgrids, customers can get the resilience benefits or reduce their costs today by using proven and cost-effective technologies, while also planning for the future.

Dupont agreed, adding that PowerSecure’s approach is focused on future-proofing microgrid installations so that they can simply plug and play the next technology. “These are 25- or 30-year assets that you're putting in place,” Dupont said. “Let’s go and do the planning so that when the next technology does come, you're ready.”

Over time, the number of distributed energy resources that can be incorporated into microgrids will make them considerably more complex, according to Dupont. That next technology could be an advancement in battery energy storage, hydrogen or even micronuclear, according to Dupont.

According to Dupont, the industry will need to do a lot of thinking on the front end to make sure that any microgrid’s design allows it to grow in the most efficient and effective way.

Changing regulations

Dupont and Wood also discussed the impact of regulatory changes, such as those we’re currently seeing in Texas.

“There is the evolution of the regular regulatory space that's happening, with the utilities driving an interest in the adoption of distributed energy technologies” and microgrids, Dupont said.

He pointed to the Texas Public Utility Commission, which has issued directives that promote the use of distributed energy resources and microgrids to support the grid. He also said he hopes the Texas legislature will adopt a bill that will incentivize putting microgrids or distributed energy resources at a localized level in order to support the grid.

Learn more about microgrids at Microgrid 2023: Lights On!, which will be held May 16-17 in Anaheim, California. PowerSecure will participate in a panel called Microgrid and DER Markets, Planning and Forecasts.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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