Navigant Research has identified 173 new microgrid projects worldwide in its Microgrid Deployment Tracker 2Q17, released this week.
In all, Navigant has found 1,842 microgrids operating, under development, or proposed, representing 19,279.4 MW of capacity globally. In its last tracker, released in December 2016, Navigant had counted 1,681 project entries, representing 16,552.8 MW. That report included 126 new microgrid projects.
In terms of geography, Asia Pacific jumped ahead of North America in terms of total overall capacity, but North America still leads in number of microgrid projects. North America also remains No. 1 in terms of microgrids that are actually operating (as opposed to in planning or development.) Asia Pacific has the most microgrid capacity under development and proposed, due to a Chinese program expected to come online by 2020, Navigant said.
The new tracker finds commercial and industrial microgrids on the rise, with just over 2 GW of capacity, mostly from the addition of a portfolio of natural gas generator projects in India and China.
The world has more remote microgrids than grid-connected microgrids, in terms of both capacity and number of projects. And the greening of microgrids continues, with the report identifying an additional 500 MW solar microgrids. Diesel capacity remains the lead generation technology in terms of total capacity, though its position is shrinking, Navigant said.
Separately, Navigant also recently found global demand growing for microgrids that use combined heat and power (CHP), a technology known for its high level of efficiency.
The research firm sees microgrid use of CHP prime mover equipment growing from 655 MW in 2017 to 1,906 MW in 2026.
“Modern microgrids are a global phenomenon riding parallel currents of technology, climate, and policy change — and they may represent the biggest new opportunity for CHP in decades,” said Adam Forni, senior research analyst at Navigant Research. “In a growing symbiotic relationship, CHP brings mature baseload generation capability, while microgrids open new markets and improve integration with other distributed energy resources.”
In calculating the CHP microgrid forecast, the research firm aggregated data on five microgrid segments across five regions, with forecasts for capacity and revenue through 2026.
CHP is sought after for its ability to boost energy resilience, better the environment, and lower utility bills. But stumbling blocks exist to its development within microgrids. These include project complexity, interconnection challenges, and concerns about carbon (CHP often uses natural gas which emits carbon dioxide.). Navigant says that industry players who can navigate these shifting forces are being rewarded as demand continues to grow for CHP microgrids.
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