Bala Vinayagam, senior vice president for Schneider Electric’s microgrid line of business, is bullish on the future of microgrids. Vinayagam recently sat down with Rod Walton, managing editor of Microgrid Knowledge, to explain why.
“I think the train has left the station when it comes to decentralization and distributed energy resources. I think it is just a matter of time [before] we see this becoming a mainstream conversation from a deployment perspective,” he said.
And microgrids will be a big part of that conversation, he added.
According to Vinayagam, Schneider Electric believes decentralization through distributed energy resources will unlock significant value and potential for customers. He cited three major microgrid benefits – reduced energy costs, improved resilience in the face of a growing number of weather-related outages and reduced carbon emissions – as the reason why.
Standardization, not snowflakes
Vinayagam told Walton that microgrid standardization will be key to scaling adoption around the world, in part, because standardized tech stacks shorten the time it takes to get a microgrid online.
Schneider has completed more than 400 microgrid projects, he said, each one its own unique snowflake. The key to wider adoption will be converting those snowflakes “into standardized tech stacks that will allow us to seamlessly provide solutions that can be deployed by customers in the shortest possible time, instead of waiting for years to deploy a solution.”
He also sees standardization as key to solving the long utility interconnection queues currently plaguing the microgrid industry and its customers.
Each state and utility has different interconnection practices, “but the level of standardization from an interconnection perspective will help … these utilities to see that there's only a few things that need to be standardized in order for them to be interconnected,” Vinayagam explained.
Standardized microgrids, such as Schneider’s Microgrid Flex product, will allow the utilities to interconnect faster, according to Vinayagam.
Microgrids are the future of the grid
Vinayagam said that as more renewable resources such as wind and solar come onto the centralized grid, microgrids will be needed to unlock demand-side flexibility behind the meter.
“I am bullish about it,” Vinayagam said. “I see microgrids as a Swiss army knife for solving the problem of the future of the grid.”