Microgrids, in various forms, have been around for decades. But in recent years, multiple factors have converged to make microgrids increasingly viable and urgently necessary.
Every day, the world grows more technology-centric and more dependent upon electricity. The digital economy driven by vast data centers; growing (and sprawling) urban centers; the Internet of Things and interconnected machines—it all puts mounting demands on aging power grid, while the opportunity for cyber attack only increases.
With this demand for more power come rising energy prices. Municipalities, power companies and customers alike are looking for new energy management capabilities to offset costs though sophisticated demand response and peak shaving technologies—as well as the ability to tap into the greater availability of renewables and improved technologies to harness them.
Then, in 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the northeastern United States leaving 7.9 million businesses and people across 15 states stranded for days, even weeks, without power. * The damage was so profound and unexpected its ripple effects can still be felt today.
To draw a stark parallel, it was if as all the diverse factors swirling around microgrids suddenly converged and hit critical mass as well. The result was new regulations, building codes and strategic, long-term planning focused on improving public and private energy resiliency. This means being able to function independently of the utility grid for extended periods of time in the face of natural disasters, man-made attacks or any form of power disruption.