A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously.
The grid connects businesses and government buildings and facilities to central power sources, which allow them to use machinery, pumps, heating/cooling systems, electronics and more. But this interconnectedness means that when part of the grid needs to be repaired, everyone is affected.
This is where a microgrid can help. A microgrid generally operates while connected to the grid, but importantly, it can break off and operate on its own using local energy generation in times of crisis like storms or power outages, or for other reasons.
A microgrid can be powered by distributed generators, batteries, and/or renewable resources like solar panels. Depending on how it’s fueled and how its requirements are managed, a microgrid might run indefinitely.
A microgrid connects to the grid at a point of common coupling that maintains voltage at the same level as the main grid unless there is some sort of problem on the grid or other reason to disconnect. A switch can separate the microgrid from the main grid automatically or manually, and it then functions as an island.
A microgrid not only provides backup for the grid in case of emergencies, but can also be used to cut costs, or connect to a local resource that is too small or unreliable for traditional grid use. A microgrid allows organizations to be more energy independent and, in some cases, more environmentally friendly.
A microgrid comes in a variety of designs and sizes. A microgrid can power a single facility like a manufacturing plant. Or a microgrid can power a larger area like a college campus. Microgrids can be sized to fit any number of possibilities.