A new white paper from Eaton explores how microgrid evolution is fueling smarter energy management.
Recently, with increased capacity of distributed energy resources – think solar, wind, combined heat and power (CHP), energy storage, and more — Eaton points out businesses, institutions and individuals are jumping on the chance to optimize energy to support resiliency. Costs for energy resources such as solar PV are dropping, which also makes this type of energy more accessible.
With these trends and more, microgrids are also becoming an increasingly popular option to avoid power outages, as well as manage a variety of distributed energy resources and costs.
Microgrids have come a long way, and some of the earliest adopters were not surprisingly, institutions who value resiliency above all. One of the best examples? The Department of Defense (DoD).
A recent Eaton white paper explores a variety of DoD microgrid projects over the years. This includes a demonstration project at Fort Sill in Oklahoma in 2013, when the DoD showed a microgrid could work off grid and help energy management of distributed resources.
“The DoD recognized a shortage of demonstrated large-scale microgrids that would support its interests in energy surety, reducing fuel cost, resupplying convoy casualties and increasing renewable energy capacity,” the report stated.
Microgrids have evolved quickly since then, and the military has also adopted technology like Eaton’s Intelligent Mobile Power Distribution System, a system to help manage generator output released in 2014.
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These early deployments of microgrids helped fuel interest and pushed innovation of technology that is enabling new applications and driving value from microgrid systems, Eaton explained in the report. And current industry trends show growth in the microgrid market won’t be slowing anytime soon as many make the move to a more distributed energy model.
For example, according to the report, the installment costs for solar PV projects have dropped in recent years, which surely contributed to a record-breaking year for solar installations in 2016.
Energy storage is also predicted to experience “explosive growth,” Eaton reports. Take a look at this stat: Just five years ago, 0.34 GW of energy storage could be found globally. Today, that market is expecting 6 GW to be installed this year alone.
Installing a microgrid is no longer limited to science projects and forward operating military bases. Microgrids can now be easily applied to facilities that already have solar, storage or other on-site generation sources. — Eaton
If the microgrid market continues to grow as expected, the report contends we will be relying more on stored and renewable energy in future years.
Download the full report, courtesy of Eaton, to learn more on how smarter energy management helps deliver reliability, efficiency and cost savings.