- Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory, in a collaboration with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the school's sustainable design lab, has identified 22 locations in the city where microgrids could generate $1.7 billion in savings over the next two decades.
- The study considered three types of microgrids: emergency services, mixed-use buildings and energy justice projects aimed at low-income housing.
- Enhanced reliability is a major driver behind Northeast microgrids, and a recent estimate from Navigant Research predicts the systems' capacity across the United States will reach 3.71 GW by 2020.
A new study from MIT recommends developers of microgrids focus on an "anchor building" with sufficient energy needs to make a microgrid investment reasonable.
"Siting a microgrid in the location of an anchor building makes an infrastructure investment palatable to the city and encourages local stakeholders to consider connecting to the microgrid," according to MIT's Lincoln Laboratory.
The project team generated datasets on 85,000 buildings, including data on age, type and power and thermal use estimates, ultimately identifying 22 sites which could save the city up to $1.7 billion across the next two decades.
Of the grid locations, 10 were aimed at delivering power to mix-use buildings from an anchor building; 10 would provide services to low-income housing; and 2 would keep the lights on for emergency services locations.
"I took into account places that are deemed critical to keep functioning in the event that the energy infrastructure did go down, such as hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, and places of refuge, and made microgrids that stemmed from there," said Cheryl Blomberg, a systems engineer at the lab.
There are about 156 operational microgrids in the country, according to Navigant research, making up 1.54 GW of capacity. More than a dozen new projects have been commissioned this year, and 81 more are in development. The overall installed capacity is dominated by small and medium-sized projects: The average capacity of installed microgrids is just under 10 MW, but the seven largest make up 600 MW of total capacity—almost 40% of the market.