Solar Set To Become Top Microgrid Generation Modality

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The top microgrid electricity generation modality in the US will soon be solar photovoltaics (PV), according to a new report from GTM Research.

With the overall growth of microgrids in recent years, a slow shift from reliance on combined-heat + power systems, or diesel generators, has been taking place — with solar PV taking position as the top alternative. An example of this is the recent move by the Californian Energy Commission to award $5 million to Trane and Alstom Grid to develop a new wastewater treatment microgrid utilizing solar PV at the Laguna Wastewater Treatment Plant in Santa Rosa.

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That move certainly isn’t unique, though. The commission has awarded over $20 million in recent times to microgrids incorporating, or based around, “low-carbon” generation modalities. While California is particularly well suited to solar PV, and therefore unsurprisingly at the forefront of adoption, solar has been gaining a foothold in other parts of the country as well.

New data from GTM Research shows that solar PV (and few other modalities) make up the majority of planned capacity — meaning that in only a relatively short time solar PV is likely to emerge as the most common microgrid modality in the country.

image“With 39 operational and planned microgrid developments, California leads all states in terms of the highest number of microgrid projects,” stated Omar Saadeh, a senior analyst at GTM Research, as well as author of “North American Microgrids 2015: Advancing Beyond Local Energy Optimization.”

This also represents something of a shift, as New York is currently in possession of the greatest number of installations — but clearly won’t hold that spot forever.

On a final note, GTM Research states that it expects US microgrid capacity to reach a cumulative total of 2.8 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. Meaning a roughly 100% increase in capacity over the current total.


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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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