What is a Microgrid?
February 23, 2024

A microgrid is a localised, independent energy system that can generate, store, and distribute electricity to meet the energy needs of a specific area or community. Unlike traditional centralised power grids, which rely on large-scale power plants and long-distance transmission lines, microgrids operate autonomously and can disconnect from the main grid to function independently in the event of a grid outage or disruption.

How it works

Microgrids NOW How They Work.mp4 from kindall rende on Vimeo.

Microgrids typically consist of a combination of renewable energy sources (such as solar panels, wind turbines, or hydroelectric generators), energy storage systems (such as batteries), and backup generators (such as diesel generators or fuel cells). These components work together to generate electricity, store excess energy for later use, and distribute power to local consumers.

One of the key features of microgrids is their ability to integrate and prioritise renewable energy sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, microgrids enhance energy resilience and reliability by providing backup power during grid outages or emergencies, thereby ensuring continuous electricity supply to critical facilities and essential services.

Microgrids can vary in size and scale, ranging from small, isolated systems serving a single building or campus to larger, interconnected networks serving entire communities or regions. Microgrids fall into five main categories:

  • Community microgrids — whose focus is to pool local resources (mainly small-scale renewables) to maximise energy self-reliance
  • Institutional microgrids — used for universities and hospitals that require constant power, in the event that the main grid goes down
  • Remote-area microgrids — have no connection to a larger grid and are completely self-reliant on their energy supply
  • Commercial/industrial microgrids — used for commercial, manufacturing and data storage facilities for which loss of power from the main grid could prove costly or devastating. In some cases, microgrids can supply power to the system, indefinitely.      

In conclusion, microgrids represent a paradigm shift in energy governance, offering resilience, sustainability, and empowerment to local communities. By harnessing the collective power of renewable energy and innovative technologies, these microgrids are paving the way for a decentralised, democratised energy future.