A microgrid is an aggregation of a number of technologies that, together, enable the partial, occasional or complete independent generation, regulation and supply of electricity within a relatively small geographic area. Microgrids can operate in isolation, with respect to the large traditional grid infrastructure (sometimes called the macro-grid), though they are often connected to them. These component technologies have seen much innovation over the last decade, considerably widening the appeal of microgrid implementations to a variety of electricity consumers. But technical progress has unfolded somewhat unevenly, and this has affected the economic viability of microgrids for each specific scenario of deployment.More
The switch over to distributed and renewable energy systems is about more than just cutting loose from fossil fuels and embracing new energy sources. The clean energy change-over is demanding new models for electricity generation, and inverting relationships between producers, consumers and infrastructure operators. The monolithic command-and-control grid of the last century is being challenged by the small-scale, community-centric integration of electricity supply, delivery and management services.
Its herald is the microgrid: combining generation, distribution, consumption and storage at a local scale, under the aegis of advanced monitoring, control and automation systems. Island microgrids are placing self-generated electricity into the hands of local communities – and reworking traditional energy infrastructure from the bottom up.
And if Island microgrids are the enabling technology for opening up existing grid infrastructure – bringing new models for distributed energy deployment – then islands are their natural test-beds. With relatively small loads, isolated topologies and ample access to diverse renewable resources, island grids serve as logical starting points for reality-proofing the emerging microgrid technologies.