Solar Plus Storage Microgrids Not a Fad: Navigant

Jan. 5, 2017
Solar plus storage microgrids are gaining traction as their costs fall, according to a new report by Navigant Research.

Solar plus storage microgrids are gaining traction as their costs fall, according to a new report by Navigant Research.

Diesel remains the leading generation technology, in terms of total capacity used in microgrids worldwide. Remote regions, where natural gas is unavailable, tend to rely on diesel. But that’s changing, and diesel’s lead is shrinking, as solar photovoltaic costs drop and the resource becomes more available.

Navigant’s latest quarterly update finds microgrid solar PV capacity growing past 2 GW, with the addition of 203.4 MW of solar capacity. Microgrid energy storage capacity increased 238 MW. And microgrid diesel capacity increased only 108 MW.

Solar plus storage is attractive because energy storage – which also is seeing price declines – improves solar reliability. The energy storage can provide power when clouds or darkness make solar energy unavailable.

“The combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage in microgrids isn’t just a fad—these two renewable technologies have been a driving force in the microgrid industry for years and their role continues to expand,” said Adam Wilson, research associate with Navigant Research.

With solar PV pricing reaching grid parity, the market is moving beyond remote systems, and solar plus storage microgrids are  “becoming a more frequent combination across all segments and regions,” Wilson said.

In terms of the microgrid market as a whole, North America remains on top with 54 percent of microgrid market share. The United States leads all countries in terms of both capacity and total number of projects. Together, North America and Asia Pacific account for 95 percent of the new project capacity, according to Navigant.

While North America is ahead on operational microgrid capacity, Asia Pacific leads for projects under development and proposed. This is due to capacity expected to come line in China by 2020.

The new report identified 1,681 microgrid projects of all types, representing 16,552.8 MW that are in operation, under development, or proposed. Of those 126 are new projects.

Three noteworthy additions cited by Navigant are:

  • A 100-MW energy storage project in Andhra Pradesh, India
  • An 83-MW of solar plus storage microgrid in Imperial Valley, California
  • An 80-MW remote project in Newcastle, Australia that includes diesel as well as solar PV and energy storage

Navigant Research’s Microgrid Deployment Tracker 4Q16 is the 11th edition of its microgrid database that is updated semiannually.

Read more about solar plus storage microgrids on 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.

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