One of the key challenges facing microgrids in remote, rural, and off-grid environments is a viable business model that is replicable and will attract investors. Although each situation is unique, achieving this kind of template will help enable microgrids to serve the 1.6 billion people on the planet who currently do not have access to power. In addition, business models for systems in grid-connected environments are also at a crucial point of evolution.
Identifying these business models and clarifying their requirements is one of the main objectives of the Microgrid Global Innovation Forum, coming up on September 16-17, 2015 in Barcelona (www.microgridinnovation.com). The two-day event will gather microgrid experts from around the world for sharing of case study data and lessons learned in optimizing the design of hybrid, renewable energy systems in a variety of environments.
“This is a rapidly expanding market opportunity, especially since the commercial business model for microgrids in grid-connected environments is taking shape,” says Daniel Coran, editor of the Smart Grid Observer, organizer of the Forum. “Forum participants will be discussing the latest thinking about utility distribution microgrids, as well as maximizing the performance and ROI of renewables-centric, off-grid systems.”
For example, one of the speakers, Setu Pelz from RVE.SOL, will be delivering a presentation on innovative business models for cashflow-positive microgrids in rural development. The session will explore the major aspects of sustainable energy access and provision at the base of the pyramid — generation, distribution, reliability and payment. The talk will address the challenge of making microgrids cashflow positive, while maintaining a beneficial social and environmental impact.
“We propose that microgrids, combined with ancillary resource production, are the only scaleable and affordable renewable energy infrastructure solution that will truly solve energy poverty, “ says RVE.SOL in their session overview. “This inspiring space of decentralized, self-contained energy hubs promises to not only offer cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuel use by poor consumers, but also provide governments, NGOs and other microgrid developers an investment vehicle yielding a healthy return on investment in a reasonable amount of time.”
Other sessions that will be zeroing in on the microgrid business model include one by Gommyr Power Networks on microgrids from an investor’s perspectives, and one by HSB Engineering Insurance covering the critical factors that influence the insurable performance risk of microgrid island mode operations.
“This will be a unique opportunity for microgrid professionals to come together and share deployment experiences and best practices,” Coran says. “Our goal is to provide an industry-open, technology-neutral Forum in which project managers and planners can benefit from each other’s expertise and advance the potential of microgrids worldwide.”
Other presenting organizations at the Forum include ČEZ Distribuce, ERDF, Freqcon, SunEdison, Navigant Research, Trama TecnoAmbiental, CENER-CIEMAT, Gildemeister Energy Solutions, Aalborg University, ABB, the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC), SMA Ibérica Tecnología Solar, QiDO Energy Development GmbH, Smart Hydro Power, Aquion Energy, CPG Advisors, Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI), Hatch Electro-Technologies, Boeing Research & Technology Europe, Tecnalia Research & Innovation, and others.
Additional topics to be addressed at the Forum include:
- Sustainability and innovation trends for microgrids
- System design, modeling, forecasting, and implementation
- Energy storage innovation and advances for microgrid applications
- Developing world case studies
- Optimizing microgrid performance and renewables integration
- Power planning, control and management in microgrid systems
- Integration and operation of flow batteries in micro- and macrogrids
- Flywheel-based microgrids
- Stabilizing small isolated grids
- PV integration in large genset grids
- Hydrokinetic turbines for microgrids in remote areas
- Recent market trends, opportunities, and challenges
- Lessons learned from key deployments around the world
Organizational supporters of the Forum include Win Inertia, Enercoutim, the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), EUROBAT, EUREC, Grid4EU, Svensk Solenergi, Swissolar, CanaleEnergia, APESF, Romanian Photovoltaic Industry Association (RPIA), GTM Research, Microgrid Knowledge, Electric Energy T&D Magazine, Navigant Research, FuturENERGY, Utility Horizons International, FierceEnergy, the World Alliance for Distributed Energy (WADE), SmartGridNews.com, and others.