ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities’ Microgrid Strategies
Pushing for scalability, utilities look to new hybrid models for microgrid deployment; Utilities are searching for standardized microgrid models that allow both end users and the wider grid to benefit
Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 23, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Work on making the business case for microgrids continues without a breakthrough. Developing policy that supports allowing system operators to earn multiple revenue streams for the stackable services from battery storage is currently the main approach.
Utilities have struggled to devise business models that allow microgrid deployment at a larger scale. New research is targeting how microgrids, typically designed for individual customers, can be standardized for wider adoption and provide benefits to the larger utility grid. “Microgrids: Expanding Applications, Implementations, and Business Structures” details three evolving business models for microgrids and describes a new project led by Xcel Energy, Panasonic, and IT provider Younicos in a microgrid project that will test the most cutting edge of those new strategies. It defies the traditional definition of microgrids because, although it can island, it is directed at understanding how the microgrid interacts more broadly with PV systems, battery storage, and the load on the distribution feeder.
Microgrids have been used for decades, but they have typically been built by independent developers using fossil fuel generators to protect end users from grid outages. The traditional microgrid business model worked for big power users, like college campuses or military bases that had their own generation. They added switches, allowing the microgrid to disconnect from the grid, or island, and operate when the grid was down. Superstorm Sandy, which cut power to much of the Eastern Seaboard in 2012, led to pathbreaking grid modernization proceedings like New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). It also sparked a broader discussion of how microgrids could enhance power reliability, especially for critical infrastructure. But despite the growing interest, utilities have until now found it difficult to build replicable business models around microgrids that allow both they and end users to benefit… click here for more