The microgrid-as-a-service model continues to gain traction, now with German-based Younicos and its parent Aggreko moving into the space.
Approaches vary, but generally microgrid-as-a-service spares the customer from making an upfront capital outlay for the system. Instead, a third-party owns the microgrid and sells service to the customer, much as a utility does. The customer gets microgrid reliability, while the third-party leverages the system in electricity markets to earn revenue
Known for its battery-based energy storage projects, Younicos is combining low-cost renewables, in particular solar, with thermal generation and battery storage in one single contract with flexible conditions.
A copper and zinc mine in the East African county of Eritrea offers an example of the Younicos’ microgrid-as-a-service program. Younicos is equipping the mine with a solar PV-plus-diesel hybrid system. The project will reduce the mine’s fuel costs by more than 10 percent, which Younicos attributes to a power purchase agreement for the solar energy.
Under the ten-year rental agreement, the mine will be powered by a 22-MW diesel plant and a 7.5-MW solar power resource.
“Integrating storage capability with Aggreko’s existing hybrid solar-diesel offering doesn’t just combine two types of savings — it allows us to really leverage the different technologies, with each component being used more efficiently, while increasing overall resilience,” said Karim Wazni, Aggreko managing director.
Younicos said that it will offer microgrids with rental durations as short as five years, so that customers can test new technology without getting locked in as the market evolves.
The microgrid-as-a-service approach has its roots in the solar power purchase agreement (SPPA), another no-money down model which helped spur solar’s meteoric growth over the last decade. In the microgrid arena, the business model takes various names, including reliability-as-a-service and energy-as-a-service.
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