California Innovates On Microgrids

The California Energy Commission is seeking to fund several cutting edge microgrid demonstration projects.
Published: Mon 01 Sep 2014

Frequently at the forefront of developments in the energy sector the state of California is set to invest more than US$25 million in new microgrid projects that could point the way to enhancing the resiliency of the grid while also contributing to achieving carbon reduction goals.

In a solicitation currently under way the California Energy Commission is seeking projects in two groups.

Microgrids for critical facilities

Group 1 is for demonstration of low carbon-based microgrids for critical facilities, such as hospitals, fire stations, police stations, water and wastewater treatment plants, ports, schools, supermarkets, etc.

The aim is to demonstrate low carbon-based microgrid technologies that protect the critical facilities from service interruptions by providing reliable power, and have high potential for energy and cost savings, in addition to environmental benefits.

Microgrids with high penetration renewables

Group 2 is for demonstration of the viability of microgrids to manage high amounts of renewable energy, more than 50% up to 100%, to meet a facility/community load while avoiding adverse grid impacts through the use of a microgrid controller/energy management system. With high renewable energy supply, the microgrids should also be able to export renewable energy during periods of high production or low demand.

In both groups, key goals include determining the microgrid configurations that provide highest value to owners, ratepayers and utilities, and identifying the barriers to the deployment of such microgrids.

The Commission is making available US$20.5 million in funding towards the projects. Projects awards will be from a minimum US$500,000 up to a maximum US$5 million, with an additional amount of at least 25% to be provided in matching funding. The projects are scheduled to run from May 2015 through March 2018.

“These technologies are significant because they will help California achieve its carbon reduction goals and serve as models for integrating a range of technologies into the larger grid,” the Commission explained in response to comment. “State law requires greenhouse gas emission to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. State law also requires all California electricity retailers to adopt the goal of 33% of retail sales to be from renewable energy sources by the end of 2020.” [Engerati-California’s Energy Strategy Saves it from Power Crisis]

Microgrids a business opportunity

Microgrids are foreseen as an essential component of a smarter grid and it is projects such as these to be funded by the California Energy Commission that will evolve them towards technological and economic viability. [Engerati-Microgrids - More Than Just a Back-Up Plan]

With projected revenue as much as US$40 billion by 2020, there will be many players in the microgrid market providing threats, in particular to the incumbent utilities. But there are also opportunities and now, the earlier the better, is the time to seize them. [Engerati-Are Microgrids The Route To The Utility Of The Future?]