Greentech Lead America: Total worldwide capacity of
distributed generation (DG) contained in microgrids will more than quintuple
over the next six years, growing from 764 megawatts (MW) in 2012 to nearly
4,000 MW in 2018, according to a recent report from Pike Research.
Like today’s power grid, microgrids include generation
facilities, distribution lines, and voltage regulators. However, microgrids
offer some unique advantages: their smaller scale translates into fewer line
losses, since electricity is generated closer to utility loads, and they lessen
demand on the utility transmission infrastructure.
Microgrids are an important accelerator for various kinds
of distributed power generation, particularly from renewable sources, the
report “Microgrid Enabling Technologies” said.
Smart, bi-directional islanding inverters are also an
extremely important technology to enable DG in microgrids. Without critical
advances in this technology, the microgrid market would not be viable.
Over the course of the next six years, according to the
report, the islanding function of inverters for renewable distributed energy
generation, combined heat and power, fuel cells, and energy storage will become
much more prevalent.
While representing less than five percent of the total
inverter market today, an islanding function could conceivably become a
standard feature option for inverters over the next decade or so.
“Distributed generation assets are the foundation of any
microgrid,” said senior research analyst Peter Asmus. “Although the majority of
DG today is in the form of fossil fuel-based systems, primarily diesel
generators, recent growth rates confirm that the fastest-growing distributed
power generation technologies are combined heat and power and solar
photovoltaic systems, thanks to steep drops in prices for natural gas and solar