Is Your Microgrid Flexible?

Steve Pullins, Vice President, Energy Solutions

There are a lot of definitions of a microgrid floating in the industry, but we’re not too worried about a definition. We are more interested in its characteristics.

Is your microgrid flexible?

Does it handle multiple modes of operation? Does it operate under a variety of use cases? Does it provide multiple functions to the customer? Can your microgrid serve the host customer with electricity as well as heating and cooling? Can your microgrid serve not only the customer, but also work with the local distribution grid when needed to benefit the greater community? Can your microgrid adjust operations to improve economics, reliability, resiliency, or emissions?

If the character of your onsite generation is singular in function, then it doesn’t follow that it is a microgrid, because it doesn’t demonstrate the character of a microgrid.

If the character of your onsite generation is that it shuts down when the local distribution grid is lost, then it doesn’t meet the character test of a microgrid.

If the character of your onsite generation is that it operates solely (whether continuous or in emergency) for reliable operations, then it doesn’t meet the character test of a microgrid.

It could be that your onsite generation is just that…onsite generation. And, there is nothing wrong with that. But, if it doesn’t have the character trait of flexibility, then it is probably not a microgrid.

We often link the flexible character of a microgrid with the use cases it serves for the customer. There is a huge difference between serving one use case and two. Now consider that most microgrids (the flexible ones) are serving upwards of 7 or 8 use cases.

Instead of debating definition for a couple years, it might be a good idea to determine the key characteristics of a microgrid, like we did with the Principal Characteristics of a Smart Grid 10 years ago. That helped shape the direction of the Smart Grid movement, investments, and deployments. Plus, we didn’t take three years debating the definition of a Smart Grid before we set a course of action for the future.

I’m just sayin’…

Originally published on LinkedIn