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The Value of Microgrids: Challenges and Opportunities

Nov. 9, 2020
With energy challenges on the rise, practical technology solutions exist today that can strengthen our power system, de-risk our businesses, and provide safety to our communities. With policy and legislative support, microgrids for climate resilience can be deployed with greater ease.

Today’s energy landscape is riddled with challenges. This is unfortunately fitting with the many difficulties 2020 has delivered.

The rising frequency and severity of extreme weather events in recent years has underscored the need for greater energy resiliency – for our power grid, for our businesses, and for our communities.

In 2020 alone, tornadoes ripped across the US from Texas to Maine, knocking out power to an estimated 9.3 million Americans. A short while later, Hurricane Isaias ravaged the east coast, keeping 13.8 million people in the dark, some for multiple days.

Over on the west coast, California faced an unprecedented week-long heat wave that plunged the state into its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years, with 1.2 million people forced to face the heat without electricity. Separately, the state’s planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) to stymie fire risk are expected to continue for the next decade and have already caused multi-day outages for over 3 million Californians since 2019.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak is reminding us how globally interdependent society is, revealing just how vulnerable we are to disruptions that impact the production and distribution of goods and services. Communities and businesses are learning that they must be locally resilient to survive. Localizing critical services such as food and hardware supplies, as well as medical and manufacturing services is necessary to serve communities when global supply chains are disrupted.

Much like these critical services must be localized, so must one of the most important products we constantly rely on – electricity.  For businesses and communities alike, implementing localized microgrids to supply reliable and resilient electricity is now a strategic imperative.