Generation Professionals Group

The Generation Professionals Group is for utility professionals who work in biomass, coal, gas/oil, hydro, natural gas, or nuclear power generation fields. 

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Question

How do microgrids impact the energy mix going forward?

Or are the impacts buried in the overall trend of the increase in gas and renewable DERs?

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Answers

They enable a higher penetration of renewables within the system and balance fluctuations from renewables at the local level, by utilizing various storage and load resources. For more information on microgrids I can recommended the white paper released by the Global Smart Grid Federation in August. 

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    Since microgrids can operate with all types of generation, I see this question as one of, "where do microgrids impact the economics of various generation sources?" In general, the increased coordination of generation, storage and load management enabled by a microgrid improve the economics of intermittent generation sources. We're already seeing this play out in island and other remote community situations where fossil fuels must be imported at high cost. In grid-tied situations, I believe microgrids are more about reliability where renewables do not necessarily have an economic advantage over fossil fuel generation. However, microgrids, even in grid tied situations, make the sustainability business case for renewable generation a little easier to make.

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The microgrids in grid-connected mode present additional opportunities for improving the overall grid operations, e.g., for the volt/var control. They also present additional challenges for the situational awareness and for the controllability of the grid. To fully utilize the potentials of the microgrids and to prevent adverse impacts, adequate information exchange between the grid and the microgrid should be provided. More on this issue can be found in the Microgrid Interactive Use Cases. Available:  http://smartgrid.epri.com/Repository/Repository.aspx .

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