Microgrid: How the Military Connection Advances the Technology

April 28, 2014
When you think about it, the military’s interest in microgrid technology makes sense: With its need for facilities to stay powered all day every day, getting off the grid is critical. That’s why the market is predicted to be huge – but funding is a challenge.

When you think about it, the military’s interest in microgrid technology makes sense: With its need for facilities to stay powered all day every day, getting off the grid is critical.

“Microgrids provide the military with energy security and reliability 24-7 and 365 days a year. They need power if the entire world disappears around them,” says John Carroll, business development director for Intelligent Power & Energy Research Corporation (IPERC), a New York-based company that manufactures microgrid controls and is a contractor for installations on four bases.

The military isn’t the only organization that thinks the Navy, Army and other arms of the government need to get into microgrids and renewable energy. The Department of Defense recently published a report, “Quadrennial Defense Review,” an assessment of U.S. defense readiness, which focuses on the growing threat that climate change poses to military capabilities and global operations. In addition, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says that we’ll be seeing more and more extreme weather across the globe.

Given all these pressures, Carroll predicts that the market for microgrids in the military is in the tens of billions of dollars. “The total available market is huge,” he says.

What’s more, the military’s interest in microgrids is fueling the interest of municipalities and utilities.

Looking for more discussion on microgrids? Join our Microgrid Knowledge LinkedIn group.

“The military is the technology leader. Every utility is looking at the Department of Defense for how they are deploying microgrids. At conferences all over the country, utilities and municipalities are coming together to understand what the military has been doing,” he says. “The military is absolutely the leader.”

Microgrid Military Potential

The military microgrid market will produce more than 54.8 MW of capacity by 2018, according to a report from Red Mountain Insights, “Military Microgrids Market Potential.” More than 40 US military bases have microgrids in operation or are planning or studying them. Afghanistan, in particular, needs efficient, mobile microgrids. The Department of Defense moves about 50 million gallons of fuel monthly in Afghanistan, much of it power more than 15,000 generators, according to the report.

IPERC, which has been in the microgrid business for 10 years, sees all this as good news for its company. However, says Carroll, funding the installations is a major challenge. The four base installations were funded by the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security, a Department of Defense program.

“That program will end this time next year. The next step: It will be up to individual bases and their budgets, or private partnerships and state grants. It will become a collage of money sources.”

A collage of issues have come together to create the need for the military to embrace microgrids. Will the collage of funding sources help fill the need?

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.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids

Only through Standardization Can Microgrids Accelerate the Energy Transition

Jan. 18, 2024
Jana Gerber, North America microgrid president at Schneider Electric discusses how standardizing microgrids will accelerate the energy transition.

Download the full report.
Download the full report.
Download the full report.
Download the full report.
Download the full report.

Microgrid Implementation Challenges and Key Technologies

Schneider Electric identifies the main challenges faced during a microgrid project implementation and provides practical information for addressing them.