Welcome to About Microgrids, a section of Microgrid Knowledge that defines microgrid terms and concepts to help readers understand the growing usefulness and popularity of this form of distributed energy.

What is a Microgrid?

How is a microgrid defined? A few different definitions exist. Here we set out to explain what we mean by 'microgrid' at Microgrid Knowledge. A microgrid is a self-sufficient energy system that serves a discrete geographic footprint, such as a college campus, hospital complex, business center, or neighborhood. Within microgrids are one or … [Read more...]

History of Microgrids in the US: From Pearl Street to Plug-and-Play

While it may seem that microgrids are new, the history of microgrids shows they have been around in some form for years in the US — although they haven’t always been called microgrids. The first one was introduced by Thomas Edison in 1882 at his Pearl Street Station, which combined heat and power and produced electricity and thermal … [Read more...]

What are Non-Wires Alternatives?

Non-wires alternatives (NWAs) use distributed energy resources and microgrids to defer or replace the installation of more traditional 'wires and poles' infrastructure. When utilities choose non-wires alternatives, they often save ratepayers money by avoiding investments in costly infrastructure. By utilizing distributed energy resources (DER) at … [Read more...]

Microgrid Benefits: Eight Ways a Microgrid Will Improve Your Operation…and the World 

Microgrids serve industries, institutions, communities and other customers in a range of ways. Here we look at eight main microgrid benefits – from keeping the lights in a storm to lowering energy costs to improving community well-being. Eight microgrid benefits 1. A microgrid improves electric reliability Among microgrid benefits, electric … [Read more...]

What is a Virtual Power Plant?

A virtual power plant turns on its head the traditional idea of relying on big, centralized power plants for predictable power. But what is it exactly? And who uses virtual power plants and why?   A virtual power plant works remotely to combine a number of independent energy resources from disparate locations into a network that provides … [Read more...]

Choosing the Type of Microgrid that is Right for Your Operation

So you’ve decided that your operation needs a microgrid. But what type of microgrid? Answering that question isn’t always easy because microgrids come in many different permutations, often customized to the business, factory, hospital, university, community or other operation they serve. But they do fall into certain broad categories, sliced … [Read more...]

Who Uses Microgrids and Why?

A range of businesses and institutions now use microgrids to boost electric reliability, green their energy supply, lower costs, improve efficiency and better serve customers or the local citizenry. As the fledgling microgrid industry matures, the technology’s advantages become apparent in more applications. Here we describe what types of … [Read more...]