Microgrid deployment is rapidly taking hold worldwide, a new report from Navigant Research suggests.
As of the fourth quarter of 2017, the research group’s Microgrid Deployment Tracker had identified 1,869 projects—representing a total capacity of 20.7 GW—operating, under development, or proposed across 123 countries worldwide. That compares to 18 GW of microgrid capacity identified in the second quarter of 2016.
Navigant noted that the increase in microgrid capacity was boosted by 60 new projects. These were mostly small installations, with the exception of a 2.2-GW microgrid installed at the Saudi Aramco gas-oil separation plant in Shaybah, Saudi Arabia, by Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. That project—which is technically eight interconnected microgrids—is the largest single entry in Navigant’s Tracker.
Asian Pacific nations led all regions in microgrid deployments, with 8.4 GW of total capacity, though North America kept pace, with a total 6.97 GW.
“While Asia Pacific and North America still account for almost three-quarters of all microgrid capacity in the Tracker, the major shift in this update is the Middle East and Africa jumping to third place among all regions with more than 3 GW of total capacity,” said Adam Wilson, research analyst with Navigant Research. “Europe showed an unusual drop in capacity in this update, with a total of 1.8 GW, due to a number of project updates where totals were adjusted downward to correctly represent their current status.”
The research group noted that while it has tracked the microgrid market since 2009, the process continues to remain dynamic because a “clear definition of what is and what is not a microgrid is still open to debate.” Navigant defines a microgrid as a “distribution network that incorporates a variety of possible distributed energy resources that can be optimized and aggregated into a single system that can balance loads and generation with or without energy storage and is capable of islanding whether connected or not connected to a traditional utility power grid.”
—Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)