Microgrids making the world more sustainable
“A microgrid is a decentralized group of electricity sources and loads that normally operates connected to and synchronous with the traditional wide area synchronous grid but is able to disconnect from the interconnected grid and to function autonomously in "island mode" as technical or economic conditions dictate.” Microgrids often run off renewable energy and can provide electricity to a small area, such as a city block or a small village
Microgrid technology can be harnessed to address several issues across the world. In particular they can help cities become carbon neutral and help less developed areas have access to clean renewable energy. Microgrids will allow cities and regions to decrease their dependency on national grids and convert the urban and rural environment into a sources of energy supply, by utilising the environment around them. We are already starting to see this process as more buildings are introducing PV solar panels, and wind power is being harnessed in some regions.
However, PV panels on roofs of urban buildings will not be enough for a building to be carbon neutral alone. Therefore, renewable microgrids can be utilised to allow for zero carbon areas. The microgrid maybe a larger area such as a PV panel field or a small wind turbine that can support a city block with energy. Furthermore, microgrids have the capability to be a battery store, which means they can support the energy supply of buildings in times of reduced energy production. This is crucial as PV panels often provide a U-shaped amount of energy, meaning in the evenings they will not produce power, this is where microgrids can provide energy support to areas.
A fascinating prospect of microgrids is that they have the capability to provide areas of the world that don’t have access to power with electricity. Currently 17% of the global population do not have access to power, with cost being a significant barrier stopping regions from having power infrastructure that will cost billions to set up. Microgrids can provide these regions with access to electricity in a cost-effective way, without having to spend billions on energy infrastructures. Thus, microgrids can help raise a lot of regions out of poverty by providing the areas with power.
Therefore, microgrids are a decentralised source of power that can supplement buildings with renewable energy to create carbon zero areas. Microgrids also help those who are in isolated and remote areas who do not currently have access to electricity with power.