Remote Microgrids, Corruption, Celebrities and Other Quick Microgrid News

Dec. 17, 2015
Fast growth for remote microgrids and nanogrids. CleanSpark buys SES. Leonardo DiCaprio’s new role with Powerhive. Microgrids, renewables and more quick microgrid news.

Credit: Lori Benson

When it comes to electricity markets, small and remote is getting big. In fact, the worldwide value of remote microgrids and nanogrids is expected to grow from $10.9 billion in 2015 to $196.5 billion in 2024, according to a new report by Navigant Research.

Navigant looked at the cumulative global value of assets and services related to the development of the systems.

Remote microgrids and nanogrids offer a big market opportunity for companies, especially in remote Africa and India.

But it’s not necessarily an easy market to cultivate, according to Navigant. Road blocks? Existing subsidies for the status quo energy, logistical construction challenges, and “lingering business practices that border on corruption at worst and inefficiency at best,” said Navigant.

An executive summary is here. (There is a fee for the full report.)

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CleanSpark, an advanced microgrid software and controls company, has acquired Specialized Energy Solutions (SES), a clean energy engineering and construction company in San Diego.

CleanSpark, also in San Diego, says the aquisition will improve its ability to provide clients with energy security and independence, while increasing the load it serves to 6 MW in 2015.

SES focuses on commercial-scale distributed renewable energy for both critical defense and civil infrastructure.  Founded in 2011, the company has completed a wide array of distributed solar, wind, energy storage and microgrid projects in Southern California and Arizona.

CleanSpark offers plug-and-play enterprise software. By integrating new and existing energy generation and storage assets with advanced load management capacities, CleanSpark’s software allows energy generated locally to be shared with other interconnected microgrids. This capability makes it easier to scale up commercial, industrial, military, municipal, and remote community microgrids.

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Are microgrids becoming a celebrity magnet? Powerhive, which works in emerging markets, has brought onto its advisory board actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Lord Gregory Barker, former member of British Parliament and minister of state for energy and climate change.

They will work together with Powerhive on its mission to deliver renewable energy to the planet’s 1.4 billion people who have no access to reliable electricity.

“We have the ability to transition our world to 100 percent clean, renewable energy, using existing techniques, within our lifetime. I am proud to support technologies like those developed by Powerhive that are at the forefront of the trend to move away from fossil fuels. This is an important and real step in our fight against climate change,” said DiCaprio. “Powerhive’s efforts will allow hundreds-of-millions of people to benefit from energy access – improving their quality of life without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

DiCaprio also is a UN messenger of peace and through his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation supports education about sustainability and environmental issues.

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Community solar (aka solar gardens) is not the same thing as a community microgrid, but some companies see possibility in growing solar gardens into microgrids.

So it’s interesting to note that BlueWave, a Boston-based solar development and fintech company, and Morgan Stanley subsidiary MS Solar Solutions plan to develop, co-invest and jointly own a community solar portfolio of more than 25 MW in Massachusetts. The project intends to develop the projects in 2016.

The relationship with Morgan Stanley represents BlueWave’s first major financing for its community solar product. It plans to launch the product elsewhere in the U.S. in 2016.

Community or shared solar offers a way for people to go solar even if they do not have an amenable living situation. If they are renting or their roof is shaded, they may do better sharing a central solar facility with others in the neighborhood.

BlueWave has played a leading role in the Massachusetts solar industry, where the company has executed solar power purchase agreements with more than 20 cities and towns, academic institutions, and affordable housing providers.

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Many microgrids include renewable energy. These grid-connected and remote microgrids will contribute to making renewables the fastest growing power source over the next decade in the United States.

 GlobalData says installed capacity of renewables will grow from 121.9 GW in 2015 to 216 GW in 2025, a 5.9 percent annual compount growth rate.

According to the company’s latest report (available for a charge), the growth reflects strong government support for renewables.

Chiradeep Chatterjee, GlobalData’s senior analyst covering power, credited President Barack Obama for putting in place programs this year that support renewables.

“For example, the Fannie May Green Initiative provides smart energy through financing solutions, while the Weatherization Assistance Program, instituted by the Department of Energy, offers grants to improve the energy efficiency of resident low-income families. Such initiatives are positive steps to achieving green targets established by US states,” Chatterjee said.

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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 RealEnergyWriters.com, 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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