How Many Microgrids Are There Exactly?

Feb. 1, 2018
Trying to determine how many microgrids exist in the world is not easy. No central registry exists. And while some microgrids receive global publicity, others are quietly operating in places as far-flung as the remote Himalayas.

Trying to determine how many microgrids exist in the world is not easy. No central registry exists. And while some microgrids receive global publicity, others are quietly operating in places as far-flung as the remote Himalayas.

Navigant Research has been hard at work trying to track down exactly how many microgrids are out there. The research firm issues its results twice a year. Released today, the most recent report, the 4th quarter 2017 tracker, adds 60 microgrid projects, bringing the total tracked to 1,869 microgrids or 20.7 GW.

This compares to 1,842 microgrids, representing 19.3 GW that Navigant identified in its previous tracker in the second quarter of 2017.

Navigant identifies how many microgrids are in operation, under development, proposed or on hold in the top 10 countries, and top 10 US states.

Here are a few interesting findings from the most recent report.

  • Remote microgrids continue to outnumber grid-tied microgrids
  • Solar photovoltaic capacity continues strong growth, with almost 323 MW of capacity added
  • Diesel remains the leading generation technology used in microgrids (measured by capacity). But its lead is shrinking
  • Asia Pacific has the most microgrid generation capacity; North America leads in terms of number of microgrids

The Middle East & Africa are gaining ground in the ranking, largely because of a microgrid cluster, totaling 2.2 GW, being built to serve a Saudi Aramco gas-oil separation plant project in Shaybah, Saudi Arabia.

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“While Asia Pacific and North America still account for almost three-quarters of all microgrid capacity in the tracker, the major shift in this update is the Middle East & Africa jumping to third place among all regions with more than 3 GW of total capacity,” says Adam Wilson, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Europe showed an unusual drop in capacity in this update, with a total of 1.8 GW, due to a number of project updates where totals were adjusted downward to correctly represent their current status.”

With the 4th quarter tracker, Navigant began looking at projects that are now on hold and found 32 in all. Navigant did not count the on-hold microgrids in its final capacity tally. However, it is keeping the projects in the database in case they become operational.

A free executive summary is available on Navigant’s website.

How many microgrids are there exactly? Who do they benefit? How do you choose what kind is right for operation? Check out About Microgrids on Microgrid Knowledge.

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, 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.

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