The US experiences more power outages than any other developed country. Its aging electrical infrastructure, from…
A microgrid is a small scale local grid connected to the grid and can work in conjunction with the main grid or independently. The local grid can be powered independently from sources of electricity such as solar cells, fuel cells, wind power generators, diesel and gas engines.
Statistics show that the number of grid outages has been doubling every five years in the United States. According to the Department of Energy, the United States has the highest number of outages of any developed country. If you are a businessman whose line of the business relies heavily on the grid, you probably understand why experts have been frantically trying to look for a solution. Microgrid technology is one of the viable solutions proposed to tackle the power outage problem.
How Microgrids Work
An important feature of microgrid systems is that they can be connected to the main grid or they can work separately. This is achieved through the use of PCC (Points of Common Coupling) or other switching mechanisms. The switch can either be operated manually or automatically.
The installation of the system must uphold both safety and functionality. Automatic switches are more convenient but they require proper fail safe mechanisms that will prevent hazards when reconnecting to the microgrid.
Benefits of Microgrids
One of the benefits of microgrids is that they can help to address the interruptions caused by frequent power outages. Facilities such as call centers, manufacturing plants and even military bases have operations that are very sensitive to power interruptions.
Many facilities cannot even afford to have short power interruptions. An outage that last a few minutes is enough to disrupt services in the facility and cause unnecessary delays. Microgrids can be set up to anticipate power outages at certain points in time.
Another advantage of microgrids is that they can use renewable energy sources such as solar power or wind power. Local communities may also use these systems as a way of reducing their carbon footprint. Systems that rely on renewable energy sources can also reduce the cost of electrical power for low income residential homes.
These systems can potentially have a huge impact on the local economy. Improved grid efficiency will allow facilities and manufacturing to produce more at a lower cost. Small businesses can provide more reliable services without worrying about downtime.
Microgrids have become more reliable over the years. However, engineers are trying to develop systems that can attain levels of reliability not achieved before. Some smart systems are being designed to anticipate the possibility of power outages by reviewing geographical and weather information as well as other available data to monitor power outages on the grid. Some of the data collected by smart systems can provide insights to utility operators on blackouts and quality of power on the grid.
Smart grids can reduce carbon footprint by using computing technology to anticipate demand at a given point in time. These smart grids will not only be using renewable energy, but may have the capability to generate power only when required to reduce wastage.
Microgrids are the way of the future, and that future is quickly becoming a reality. Nonetheless, power outages still happen and as a business owner, it’s crucial that you are prepared to handle that eventuality. That being said, you may be in need of an uninterruptible power supply.