Swift Ascension: 5 Biggest Story Trends Highlight Year's Ascendency of Microgrids

Dec. 26, 2023
For Microgrid Knowledge, this is our song: 2023 was a year of tremendous growth and expansion in the way that distributed energy resources are remaking the electricity delivery landscape. The push has been undeniable and, shall we say, “Fearless.”

For entertainment purposes only, 2023 certainly could be called The Year of Taylor Swift. Her Eras tour is enthralling fans of multiple generations, earning more than $1 billion and elevating her to TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year, a lofty perch usually occupied by heads of states or global movements. 

For Microgrid Knowledge, this is our song: 2023 was a year of tremendous growth and expansion in the way that distributed energy resources are remaking the electricity delivery landscape. The push has been undeniable and, shall we say, “Fearless.”

No doubt there’s still much to be concerned about, as financial and political objectives can change. But this year is one to remember, and here is review of five of the biggest and most read story trends from Microgrid Knowledge 2023’s archives.

We’re expecting bigger and better in 2024, but if there are any negative’s we’re just going Shake, Shake, Shake It off. 

Major utilities embrace the micro 

The nation’s biggest investor owned utilities are recognizing the versatility and localized value in microgrids. Duke Energy’s community microgrid project in Hot Springs, North Carolina, turned many heads, while the work of PG&E in California gained both admirers and detractors, but could grow the use cases for mobile microgrids via bidirectional charging.

On the public power level, leaders in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, are partnering with Compass Energy Platform in forming a microgrid utility to serve Cleveland and surrounding communities.

The military mobilizes for energy security

One year after the U.S. Army released its long-term climate strategy and set a course for a microgrid at every installation by 2035, the nation’s defenders all around both started and completed numerous projects. 

The U.S. Air Force completed its new combined heat and power microgrid at the Yokota Base in Japan. Construction began on the U.S. Army’s latest microgrid at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. 

The Marines, always first in, weren’t going to be left behind and awarded a $22 million contract to Duke Energy to build a microgrid at Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The first phase of work on the ambitious, hybrid microgrid at Joint Base Los Alamitos in California was completed, with the second nearly underway when Ameresco acquired it from developer Bright Canyon Energy. The move solidifies Ameresco’s position as a key operator of military microgrids throughout the U.S.

Health care sector prescribes microgrids for energy needs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services granted a historic regulatory waiver to allow health care microgrids, a step that could be a game-changer for how hospitals and other facilities handle on-site energy resiliency goals.

The very important pediatric care and teaching facility at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, California, meanwhile, announced it was adopting a battery storage microgrid system to be installed over the next three years. Redflow will deliver the 34.4-MW installation.

So how’s the utility grid going to supply charging for all these EVs?

It’s not. The current grid is not ready for large-scale fleet or individual electrification of the transportation sector. Microgrids are coming to the rescue, whether it's a partnership such as PXiSE Energy Solutions’ deal with Rove for future charging stations, or the $10 million in grants to build EV charging stations announced by the California Energy Commission.

H2 to infinity and beyond

The move toward a greater role for hydrogen in the power generation and transporation sectors is elevating the status of renewable energy microgrids to support production of the carbon-free gas.

Plug Power was contracted to provide a hydrogen fuel-cell microgrid in heart of California's wine country. FuelCell Energy, meanwhile, late in the year announced a massive Dutch project with an ExxonMobil affiliate to develop carbonate fuel and power generation coupled with carbon capture at a refinery in Rotterdam.

Legacy oil and gas service firm Baker Hughes is going to work with Avports on developing H2-fueled microgrids for airports, while Fidelis New Energy is planning to energize a future $5 billion data center in West Virginia via hydrogen and microgrids.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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