Microgrid Talk: What’s next in microgrid innovation?

Oct. 5, 2022
If the Silicon Valley adage ‘innovate or die’ is true, microgrids appear poised for long life. Three microgrid experts tell us what’s next and what’s needed.
We’ve come a long way with being able to control all of the different energy sources in a microgrid, according to Chris Ellis, executive vice president of distributed infrastructure for PowerSecure. But, he says, we still need to see more microgrid innovation.

“The technology’s changing fast, and new energy sources are going to be available,” Ellis says during the most recent edition of Microgrid Talk. “Microgrid systems at their core have to be agnostic to be able to take in and replace energy sources without a big infrastructure change.”

Jaimie Hamilton, technical adviser for Cummins, agrees, saying that with advanced controllers and more interconnection between assets, some system updates can be done without anybody even stepping foot on site. “It could be an upgrade to your software, a change in your operational procedures, it could be adding additional assets within a controller that’s flexible,” Hamilton says. But the key is taking a holistic view of your energy ecosystem so that you can “add those assets now, or in 10 years in order to meet the specific goals at the time.”

Jana Gerber, North American microgrid president for Schneider Electric, adds that innovation will come as we continue to think about microgrid use cases. “Think about the use case of reduction of energy, the use case of adding electrification, the use case of reaching sustainability goals,” Gerber says. “How do you continuously add on to that through just the controls and the vision of the customer and what’s possible?”

One part of the answer, according to Gerber, is artificial intelligence and machine learning. She believes both will enhance the optimization of microgrids.

In the video, Ellis, Hamilton and Gerber also discuss other areas where the industry needs to see more innovation, including energy storage, digital interoperability and long-term resiliency.

Watch this Microgrid Talk video, which is part two of a three-part series. You can also catch up on part one here

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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