Events that Shaped the Microgrid Industry in 2015

Jan. 2, 2016
Last year brought new and bigger players into the North American microgrid market. Here’s a look at what they achieved and other events that shaped the microgrid industry worldwide in 2015.

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.

Second State Governor Pushes Microgrid Development in Inaugural Address

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.

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?

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.

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.

Did Tesla Really Move the Needle on Microgrids April 30? Or Did New York?

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.

Haiti’s First of 80 Microgrids

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.

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.

2016 promises to be another big year for the microgrid industry. Track the changes by joining our LinkedIn Group, 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.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids

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