Here’s a look at events that shaped the microgrid industry in 2015 and the new players, policies and ideas driving the industry forward.
Consider it the year that microgrids achieved stature. Well-known companies like ABB, Eaton, Exelon, GE, Hitachi, Panasonic, S&C Electric, Schneider Electric, Siemens, SolarCity, Tesla and others either entered the microgrid market or achored their place. They formed partnerships with each other and smaller companies, made deals, and got to work on new microgrids.
In North America, the most active arena so far, government support grew. Pro-microgrid language made its way into a comprehensive energy bill moving through Congress. States like New York and California seeded the microgrid industry with funding, as did the Canadian province of Ontario.
Meanwhile, India, Africa, islands and outposts pressed forward with remote microgrids to bring light to the 1.3 billion people who still don’t have reliable electricity.
Month by Month Look at Events that Shaped the Microgrid Industry
January 2015: Governors say, “Go Microgrids!”
Governors in two green energy-savvy states, California and Vermont, pitch the importance of microgrids in their inaugural speeches.
February 2015: NY thinks it has a good idea with $40M NY Prize
New York kicks off its $40 million NY Prize, a competition to build community microgrids. The state hopes to give money to about 25 communities in Phase 1.
Equally important, New York approves the framework for REV — Reforming the Energy Vision — and opens the door wide for disruptive energy technologies, such as microgrids, energy energy storage and solar.
- New York Offers $40M to Boost Community Microgrids
- Hello Local Energy, Bye Old Power Industry, Say New York Regulators with Key Vote
March 2015: Big utility, big solar and big bucks
The Illinois market looks increasingly promising for microgrids, as Exelon subsidiary Commonwealth Edison pushes legislation to invest $300 million in six microgrid pilot projects.
Meanwhile, Solar City and Sun Edison enter the microgrid market. The two companies are credited with coming up with financing strategies that made solar accessible to large swaths of people. Will they do the same for the microgrid industry?
- Illinois Lawmakers Consider $300M for Utility Microgrids
- Three Reasons to Watch the SolarCity Microgrid Play
April 2015: Rumor is true! Lid lifts on Oncor microgrid
Rumor had it that S&C Electric, Schneider Electric and Oncor were working on something big in Texas. They lift the lid on what turns out to be one of the most sophisticated microgrids to date.
- Rumor is True: Oncor Unveils First-of-a-Kind-Microgrid (This was Microgrid Knowledge’s most read story of the year.)
May 2015: Elon Musk brings microgrid-like tech to the home
Elon Musk makes a big splash when he unveil’s Tesla home battery, the Powerwall, opening the way for residential nanogrids and microgrids. Meanwhile, New York starts distributing community microgrid grant money.
June 2015: Ending energy poverty in Haiti with microgrids
EarthSpark International, an organization dedicated to ending energy poverty, completes the first of 80 microgrids planned in Haiti.
July 2015: Surprise! It turns out the NY Prize is an even better idea than New York thought.
New York ends up awarding money for 83 microgrids — not 25 as it had planned — after it’s flooded with applications from communities that want to study the feasibility of installing a microgrid.
August 2015: Microgrids increasingly become a low-carbon play
Siemens, Pacific Gas & Electric, and partners announce low-carbon microgrid at Blue Lake Rancheria, a 100-acre Native American reservation in Northern California.
September 2015: Major companies to bring microgrids to South Africa
Seven major energy companies — ABB, Alstom, EDF, Engie (previously GDF Suez), Eskom, First Solar and Schneider Electric — join forces in South Africa yesterday to drive low-carbon microgrid development in advance of United Nation climate talks scheduled for December.
October 2015: GE makes $1b disruptive energy play; PECO Energy plans microgrids
GE invests $1 billion in new Boston-based company, Current, to offer microgrids, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles and other disruptive energy. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania regulators approve a $50 to $100 million microgrid pilot program for Exelon subsidiary PECO Energy.
- GE Forms New Company in $1B Play for Disruptive Energy Market
- PECO Gets Okay for $50 to $100M Microgrid Pilot in Pennsylvania
November 2015: Big Players team on $10.3M solar microgrid in Denver
Xcel Energy, Panasonic and Denver International Airport announce plans to build a $10.3 million solar microgrid in Colorado to demonstrate the use of batteries in a microgrid.
December 2015: Congress readies to take up pro-microgrid bill. Hitachi arrives. Next Maryland?
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says a grid modernization bill — one that takes steps toward creating federal microgrid policy — may reach the floor of the U.S. Senate in early 2016. Meanwhile, Hitachi, one of the world’s biggest companies, enters the North American microgrid market and Exelon’s Maryland subsidiary plans several microgrids.
- U.S. Senate Expected to Take up Microgrid Policy in Early 2016
- Hitachi Moves into the North America Microgrid Market with 100-Year Plan
- BGE Plans Public Purpose Microgrids Across Central Maryland
2016 promises to be another big year for the microgrid industry. Track the changes by joining our LinkedIn Group, Microgrid Knowledge.