Power outages have always been an unavoidable disruption across all industries and communities. In the past, electricity consumers have been forced to reluctantly accept this reality or resort to diesel backup generators that are expensive and harmful to the environment. Unfortunately, widespread power outages that threaten the ability of society and the economy to prosper are on the rise due to severe weather, equipment failure, grid stress, and even attacks on critical infrastructure.
The good news is that ongoing technology advancements have presented additional solutions. Microgrids present a simple and more cost-effective approach to onsite backup power.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there were 14 climate and weather events in 2019 generating $1B or more in damage. This fact, along with the aging grid infrastructure has increased interest in how microgrids can supplement the grid in outage-prone regions. Today’s microgrids are much more than just a backup power generator. They have the ability to supplement grid capacity during times of high demand or intermittent supply while providing simultaneous onsite power to commercial and industrial customers.
Crisis-proofing operations before the next event, whether it is a national health crisis, wildfire, severe weather event, or grid failure, requires proactive business continuity planning and resilient mission critical support – especially when it comes to power systems. Microgrids are an becoming a more attractive, cleaner, and less expensive alternative to address long term outages when downtime just isn’t an option.
While microgrids have been around for some time to address local power resiliency, they are now also being recognized for their ability to supplement grid capacity during times of high demand. Today’s microgrids are much more than just a backup power generator. They are smart assets, leveraging data analytics to automatically operate when needed without human intervention. Network operations centers continuously monitor performance and intelligent software can mine data for operational patterns and respond programmatically and efficiently. More than just a collection of energy resources, a microgrid can island and operate autonomously carrying full power load for a local facility when the power is down. Microgrids also complement the broader grid by supplementing grid capacity during times of high demand or intermittent supply.