2G Energy executive: Microgrids bring resilience and certainty in uncertain times

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Kurt West, vice president of business development at 2G Energy, explains how microgrids bring resilience and certainty in uncertain times during an interview at Microgrid 2022 with Elisa Wood, Microgrid Knowledge editor-in-chief.

In times of uncertainty, microgrids can give customers control, according to Kurt West, vice president of business development at 2G Energy. West sat down with Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge, at Microgrid 2022 to discuss how global trends are impacting the microgrid market.

When deploying microgrids for customers, West says there are only three energy considerations you can solve for — cost, resilience and carbon. “Microgrids advance each one of those in a way that brings certainty” to things otherwise outside of the customer’s control.

West says that he believes customers are beginning to value resilience. “Whether it’s an outage or a surge in energy costs, the value of resilience is always felt after you needed it. And so I think people are starting to put that into their thinking.” The result, from West’s point of view, is a lot more interest in microgrids.

He sees customers looking to future proof their operations with fuel flexible solutions. With the rising cost of fossil fuels, West says customers are looking for “a hedge against that long term fuel burden.” One major consideration is the switch from natural gas to hydrogen.

West also notes that because of inflation, supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, he is seeing some hesitation from companies when it comes to investing in microgrid technology. But, he adds, we’re just eight years away from the 2030 carbon goal posts. West says that “if companies and governments are committed to their 2030 goals, we’re going to need to see a lot more action” in the microgrid space.

Learn more about how the microgrid market is changing by viewing Microgrid 2022: Microgrids as Climate Heroes. Videos of each session will be available for free as part of the Microgrid Knowledge video library

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  1. “When deploying microgrids for customers, West says there are only three energy considerations you can solve for — cost, resilience and carbon.”

    I would submit this is only the first layer of a multilayered task. Most companies would file a RIF or hire a consultant, then an RFQ to build a system. The dissconnect comes in many forms. When going out to bid on an RFQ you will probably get a design using a particular brand of controllers, MCC cabinet components and other ancillaries a panel builder “prefers”. The problem often arises with sub-contractors having their own perferred components and mixing sub-systems into systems can become onerous in the overall execution of the aggregate system (distributed micro-grid). It is fairly easy for one to end up with a cobbled together system where you might see an Allen-Bradley controller in one section of the control, to an Automation Direct PLC in another, feeding information back to the Allen-Bradley and maybe a Modicon or GE PLC in another section of the control system. Here’s what usually happens in a quest for “fast tracking” a system, one ends up with a Contractor and that project contractor goes to sub-contractors that are also panel builders with their own preferrences for command and control components. Usually after a year or two one goes to the board of directors for a system upgrade where another contractor comes in and replaces command and communications devices with (ONE) product in a CIP upgrade. This could have all been avoided by finding an EPC to co-ordinate all of the components in the system and insure each sub-contractor is using these components when they bid the job. It is also becoming more important than ever, what are the temperature specifications of all command, control and communications devices in the field? Even small considerations like an IoT field device remoted to the microgrid could have a pourous unprotected pathway into the system at large, that could invite cyber attack or ransomware attacks.

    Then there’s the onerous regulatory aspect of aggregate distributed microgrids and idiot utililty rules like “over the fence rules”. I wish you well, but do not envy the task ahead.