Why Renewable Microgrids Now?

July 31, 2020
Why renewable microgrids now? The simple answer, of course, is that renewables create clean energy. But it turns out the argument for renewable microgrids is evolving — a lot.

The simple answer, of course, is that renewables create clean energy. But it turns out the argument for renewable microgrids is evolving — a lot. 

Nathan Adams of Hitachi ABB will discuss renewable microgrids in a webinar at 2 pm, August 5

Renewables can offer better price, fuel security and reliability, especially when compared with diesel generators, according to Nathan Adams, director of technology and business development at Hitachi ABB.

Adams will be the featured speaker in a Microgrid Knowledge webinar, “What You Need to Know about Renewable Microgrids Now,” 2 pm ET, August 5, 2020.

Adams says it’s important to look at both remote and grid-connected microgrids in considering the benefits of renewables.

“The conversation is a bit different between these two and the business case is different too,” he told Microgrid Knowledge.

Remote microgrids tend to rely on diesel fuels. But in an analysis of microgrids on the Carribean islands, Hitachi ABB has found that “there is a very compelling delta between cost of solar versus diesel — enormous savings to be had even when diesel hits its very lowest price point,” Adams said.

Renewables also offer fuel security, as Adams illustrated in describing a microgrid under development in Northern Alberta, Canada. The community, which uses diesel to generate its electricity, relies on truck delivery of diesel fuel via an ice road in winter. 

The community uses almost as much fuel as it can store — and its electricity consumption is growing. Meanwhile the ice road is becoming available less often. 

With the help of a solar and storage microgrid, the community will reduce its diesel fuel consumption 25%.

Renewables add value only to a point

Adams also noted that adding renewables to a microgrid offers economic value only to a point. 

“There is an inflexion where the marginal value starts to plummet; we call that the optimized renewable point. That’s where we really target our efforts in techno economic analysis to help a customer optimize the design and dimensioning of their hybrid microgrid,” he said.

He added that grid-connected microgrids (which account for most US systems) achieve value differently than remote renewable microgrids.

“When we think about microgrids in a grid-tied environment, we introduce the concept of value stacking — using the assets within your microgrid, as they are grid-tied, to provide forms of monetization through ancillary and peripheral services available to a grid connected customer, a prosumer.”

August 5 webinar

Adams will provide more details, including economic analysis and case studies, during the August 5 webinar. Register free of charge here.

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.

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