Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Military bases and remote communities have traditionally built and maintained the lion’s share of microgrids in the United States, but cities, communities and public institutions will foster the next wave of microgrid adoptions. According to GTM Research’s report, Microgrids 2014: The Evolution of Localized Energy Optimization, current microgrid capacity stands at 1,051 megawatts and is forecasted to reach approximately 1,843 megawatts by the end of 2017, driven in part by a number of recently announced state-level resiliency programs.
“While still firmly rooted in the public sector, current deployments can serve as anchor points for gradual microgrid commercialization within 10 to 15 years,” said GTM Research analyst and report author Magdalena Klemun. “Today, microgrids interconnect generators at schools, hospitals and fire stations, but in the future, they might soon be extended to include gas stations, supermarkets and other private-sector entities interested in maintaining business continuity during outages.”
The growth of microgrid capacity will also drive the market for new infrastructure. GTM Research anticipates the annual infrastructure market value will rise from $133 million in 2014 to $671 million in 2017. The cumulative value of the microgrid market, including investments from prior years, will exceed $3 billion by 2018.
The success of the microgrid market hinges on a number of industries working together, including infrastructure, generation, and storage.
More than 90 percent of the United States’ operational microgrid capacity is based on fossil fuels like natural gas and diesel. But as microgrids emerge as a PV integration strategy, the share of PV will grow significantly over the next three years. According to the report, today’s PV and storage deployments will be incrementally transformed into tomorrow’s microgrids in scenarios where reliability is a key concern.
“For microgrids to truly gain traction, substantial regulatory overhauls will be necessary to re-evaluate utility franchise rights, as well as to rethink the definition and regulation of electric utilities,” added Klemun.