Ameresco executive discusses inflation, the military and the future of microgrids

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Britta MacIntosh, senior vice president of Western Region and London Operations for Ameresco, sat down with Microgrid Knowledge during Microgrid 2022 to discuss how global trends like inflation are impacting microgrids.

Now is the perfect time for the world to take advantage of the many benefits offered by microgrids, according to Britta MacIntosh, senior vice president of Western Region and London Operations for Ameresco. The challenges brought on by inflation, the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues can all be offset, at least in part, by a microgrid’s resilience.

“Even though we have the term micro in microgrid, it’s not really a micro solution; there are a lot of different things microgrids can do,” MacIntosh says in a recent interview with Microgrid Knowledge’s Editor-in-Chief Elisa Wood.

In the interview, which took place during Microgrid 2022, MacIntosh explains how the military is leading the microgrid charge. “Our military bases are very forward-leaning when it comes to resiliency and security, and microgrids are a perfect application for that,” she says. The Army has set a goal to have a microgrid at every military base by 2035, and MacIntosh believes its approach to these projects will pave the way for other sectors. The military can show “higher education, local governments and state governments how to apply the same kind of solutions to protect their facilities,” she says.

Ameresco

Britta MacIntosh, senior vice president of Western Region and London Operations for Ameresco

MacIntosh and Wood also discuss the impact of inflation on the microgrid market. Inflation drives interest in microgrids, according to MacIntosh, and it provides the impetus to get microgrid projects started. Driven by the need to reduce energy costs, “people stop thinking about it and actually do it,” she says.

At the same time, inflation puts the focus on energy efficiency, which MacIntosh says is a key to ensuring microgrid projects are cost-effective. “The first thing you want to do is put the building on a diet,” she says. Solar panels and battery storage are sexy, according to MacIntosh, but a lot of the energy efficiency work is done behind the scenes.

“If we really focus on an energy efficiency first approach, and then build those resilient systems second, we’re going to be better off in the long run,” MacIntosh says.

MacIntosh also discusses how microgrids can benefit wildfire-prone areas in California. As we continue to electrify our society, she says, the ability “to provide decentralized sources of power, especially in cases of emergency, becomes increasingly important in California and other places in the United States.”

Learn more about how the microgrid market is changing by catching up on what happened at 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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