Plug-and-Play Modular Microgrids Gain Market Momentum

on January 1, 2020

The beauty of the microgrid is it can be customized to meet the precise resiliency, economic, and environmental goals of any customer. This is possible because every microgrid is a personalized energy system made of available distributed energy resources (DER). Although its ability to customize is one of the microgrid platform’s strongest selling points, the downsides from the customer perspective can include time and money.

In response to time and money costs, there is a growing movement within microgrid ranks — modular microgrids. The alternative approach is to commoditize standard microgrid offerings that can be pieced together like Lego blocks, thereby shrinking design and deployment costs. Plug-and-play microgrids are attractive to financiers because they create a portfolio of similar assets, which transforms microgrids into a modular product. Although they are a minority portion of the market if measured by peak capacity, modular microgrids have the potential to make up the majority of systems deployed by 2029.

What exactly is a modular microgrid? Navigant Research, a Guidehouse company, defines modular microgrids in a new Modular Microgrids report as:

Meeting the basic definitions of a microgrid, with the distinguishing feature being the ability to island and operate autonomously but include the following attributes:

  • Pre-configured key hardware components
  • Ability to customize operations through software (often in the cloud)
  • Streamlined deployment procedures that reduce the need for onsite engineering during installation
  • The list of vendors moving in this modular direction is growing. Among them are Enchanted Rock, Scale Microgrid Solutions, Tecogen, and Bloom Energy in the US and each has focused on grid-connected systems. Globally, there are hundreds of companies offering containerized, modular microgrids for off-grid energy access or remote mining operations. The firms range from startups to industry veterans. ABB and Schneider Electric are key international players.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsPlug-and-Play Modular Microgrids Gain Market Momentum