Navigant: Solar-plus-storage microgrid adoption 'more than just a fad'

Dive Brief:

  • Analysis by Navigant Research shows worldwide interest in microgrid technology is on the rise, with North America and Asia nations leading the charge.
  • There are almost 1,700 microgrid projects either operating or in development, and North America accounts for about 54%, according to the new report. There are 126 new projects noted in the report.
  • Energy storage and solar both added more microgrid capacity than diesel generators since the firm's last update, but the fossil fuel "remains the leading generation technology in terms of total capacity."

Dive Insight:

Just how big is a microgrid, anyway? The latest edition of Navigant's Microgrid Deployment Tracker includes a massive 100 MW energy storage project in India, 83 MW of solar and storage in California, and an Australian project with more than 80 MW of capacity.

Those are a few of the project standouts highlighted in the report, Navigant said, showing interest in grid security and resiliency is on the rise, regardless of where you draw the microgrid line. And increasingly, those demands are being met by renewable energy and storage, rather than traditional diesel generators.

“The combination of solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage in microgrids isn’t just a fad — these two renewable technologies have been a driving force in the microgrid industry for years and their role continues to expand,” Navigant research associate Adam Wilson said in a statement.

Worldwide, North America and Asia Pacific account for 95% of the new project capacity. Navigant says it identified 1,681 project entries, representing 16,553 MW of capacity either operating or in some form of development. The report found energy storage capacity increased by 238 MW since the last update, and solar PV capacity increased 203 MW. Diesel added 108 MW of capacity.

“With solar PV reaching grid parity with other traditional generation technologies, we see it move beyond remote systems, and the combination of energy storage and solar PV is becoming a more frequent combination across all segments and regions," Wilson said.

Last year, GTM Research estimated there were 156 operational microgrids in the country, making up 1.54 GW of capacity, and that number is expected to rise to 3.71 GW by 2020. Globally,  Transparency Market Research believes the microgrid market will be worth about $35 billion by 2020 — up from $10 billion in 2013.

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Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Energy Storage Distributed Energy Technology
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