Combined Heat and Power is the Dominant Microgrid Technology…For Now

Feb. 15, 2018
Combined heat and power (CHP) continues to be the dominant form of distributed energy installed in microgrids globally, but solar energy threatens to usurp its position by 2026.

Combined heat and power (CHP) is the dominant form of microgrid technology now, but solar energy threatens to usurp its position by 2026.

That’s the word from Navigant Research in its new report, Microgrid Enabling Technologies Market Overview.

The report finds that among generation technologies deployed within microgrids, CHP leads with 655 MW, followed by solar photovoltaics (392 MW), and then diesel (385 MW), based on global 2017 figures.

By 2026, the landscape is expected to shift with solar jumping to a commanding lead with 3,786 MW annually, followed by energy storage with 3,292 MW, according to the report.

The report also forecasts that global cumulative spending will reach $112 billion by 2026 on eight microgrid enabling technologies studied: biomass, CHP, diesel, energy storage, fuel cells, hydroelectric, solar PV, and wind.

Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research, said that the eight enabling technologies represent “the lion’s share of potential revenue for microgrid implementation spending, and serve as the backbone of the microgrid value proposition: maximizing the value of onsite power generation.”

He described microgrids as key to an “emerging energy cloud focused on resilience and renewable energy integration.”

A way to aggregate and optimize distributed energy, the microgrid platform challenges the status quo by allowing for new levels of resilience and reliability in light of emerging threats to global power grids, ranging from extreme weather events, earthquakes, and wildfires to terrorist threats, according to Navigant.

At the same time, microgrids can help organize mixed asset fleets of distributed energy at the distribution network level, Navigant notes. With the right set of control technologies, this platform can not only offer value streams to site hosts, but also provide value upstream to the larger grid.

Vendors discussed in the report include: ABB, Eaton, S&C Electric, DG Innovators, Caterpillar, Cummins, Tecogen, Energy Storage Innovators, Tesla Energy, ViZn Energy, Younicos, Controls Specialists, Opus One Solutions, Optimal Power Solutions, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and NUVVE.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

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