Microgrid Technology: Recent Improvements Spur Government and Industry to Seek Renewable Energy Solutions

Call it a quiet revolution. Americans have been talking about lessening the nation’s dependence on oil (especially foreign-produced) since the Carter administration, but for many years, there was little advancement towards this goal. Now, recent developments in renewable energy and microgrid technology, and a presidential directive, have prompted many businesses and government agencies to undertake efforts to augment traditional power grid supplies with systems that will both save money and lessen environmental impacts.

The evidence occurs with increasing regularity. In the hospitality industry, one of the most intensive power users in the country, hundreds of hotel sites have opted to develop microgrids that incorporate solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other technologies to reduce the need for grid power. Glenn Hasak of the Green Lodging News, has listed dozens of them on his site. They range from The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne to the Lova Lava Land Eco-Resort in Hawaii.

Following President Obama’s directive to federal agencies to make $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades over the next two years, Fort Bliss, the country’s biggest military facility, a 1.2-million acre base in West Texas and New Mexico, has awarded a $16 million contract for the construction and operation of a microgrid.

Several other military installations are looking at similar development projects. In addition to cost savings and environmental concerns, microgrid power affords some security from internet-based attacks against power utilities, an increasing concern among cyber security experts. According to the contractor, Johnson Controls, the project is expected to save Fort Bliss $39 million in energy costs over the next 24 years.

Even traditional power utilities are beginning to embrace the concept of microgrids. According to Phil Carson, of intelligentutility.com, “an increase in distributed generation in general—not just renewable energy resources—has driven interest.” Changes to IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standards in 2011 also helped sway them. The companies are looking to microgrids to increase their potential power production without adding to their infrastructure.

Microgrids are becoming an increasingly popular power solution for companies, agencies and even communities. For more information regarding how a microgrid system could benefit your organization, contact Nextek Power Systems at (877) 24VOLTS or visit us at www.nextekpower.com.