Still two weeks away, Microgrid 2017, the largest microgrid conference in the world, is nearly sold out as interest in microgrids heightens following a devastating hurricane season that left millions of North Americans without power.
To be held Nov. 6-8 in Boston, the event is being hosted by Microgrid Knowledge, the International District Energy Association and the Microgrid Resources Coalition.
With very limited seating now available, the hosts are urging anyone who plans to attend to register as soon as possible.
The conference planners this week added a special panel discussion, “Mother Nature’s Mayhem Recharges Microgrid Message,” in light of the onslaught of hurricanes in the Caribbean Islands and southeastern states, which continues to leave millions of people in Puerto Rico without power more than a month later. As of Monday, October 23, only 18 percent of the island’s peak electric load had been restored, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The hurricane panel will offer “some careful prognostication of what the future may hold” for the microgrid industry as a result of these events, said Ken Horne, director of energy for Navigant and hurricane panel moderator.
“What will happen next? Hurricanes Harvey (Texas), Irma (Florida), and Maria (Puerto Rico) — to name but a few from the 2017 season — have extended the reach of high impact resiliency events to a whole new group of building owners, emergency responders, mayors, governors, and local and state legislators and their respective voters,” Horne said.
To be held Wednesday, Nov. 8, 9 to 10 a.m, the special panel will focus on how government policy may change in the wake of this fresh reminder of the value of resiliency. The panelists also will discuss ways the microgrid industry is gearing up to meet the needs of storm damaged areas, and the larger implications for utility planning.
Joining Horne in the discussion will be Chip Palombini of Dynapower, Jay Wrobel of the Department of Energy, Jason Handley of Duke Energy and Edward (Ted) Borer of Princeton University.
Microgrid 2017 comes as the industry reaches a new threshold, with awareness of the technology expanding from energy insiders to the larger mainstream. Very soon after the 2017 storms, articles began appearing in the popular press questioning why stricken areas lacked microgrids. Several microgrid companies made their way to Puerto Rico to help with the restoration.
This week the New York Times featured an article, “How to Keep the Lights on After a Hurricane,” written by Virgin’s Richard Branson and the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins, calling for more microgrid development. The article noted that Cuba did not face the massive outages of other areas during the hurricane because it has 1,800 microgrids.
More details about Microgrid 2017 are available on the conference website.