Microgrids most commonly built in remote areas

Although most microgrids are technically retrofit projects, microgrids have begun to move into the mainstream

There are now more than 388 remote microgrid projects in operation, under development, or proposed worldwide — almost as many as all other segments combined, according to Navigant Research.

Although most microgrids are technically retrofit projects, microgrids have begun to move into the mainstream. Around the world, new vendors continue to enter this space with new projects and approaches. These systems, which can operate in isolation from (or in the absence of) the wider power grid, are particularly well-suited for remote communities in the developing world, where regional and national power grids are often weak or nonexistent.

In terms of capacity, however, the market is now led by the community/utility segment, with a total capacity of 1,111 MW as of the first quarter of 2014, according to the report.

“While remote microgrids are proliferating rapidly, they tend to be quite small, often below 100 kilowatts in size,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Community and utility microgrids, which include projects being developed by the grid operators themselves, can be as large as 60 or even 100 MW per system.”

Nearly half of the microgrid projects included in the report are located in North America, which remains the global leader in terms of total microgrid capacity. The report shows a much more robust microgrid market than in 2009, when Navigant Research first began tracking the sector. As of this update, Navigant Research has identified a total of 4,393 MW of total microgrid capacity throughout the world, up from 4,148 MW in the previous update, released in the fourth quarter of 2013.

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