Microgrids Now Available As A Service

Add storage and controls to solar and have the makings of a microgrid.
Published: Mon 30 Mar 2015

SolarCity has made a name for itself as a provider of solar power to residences and businesses in the United States, becoming the biggest solar panel installer in the nation, largely as a result of its innovative leasing and financing options. Now the company wants to extend its expertise to the microgrid market, with a new turnkey “microgrid-as-a-service”, named GridLogic.

This marks a first for the industry and should serve as a wakeup call for utilities on this nascent market activity. SolarCity is also unlikely to be the only company eyeing this market. SunEdison’s recent acquisition of Solar Grid Storage, which will allow the deployment of storage with wind and solar, opens the potential for a microgrid offering from this renewable energy giant, which already has considerable microgrid experience around the world. [Engerati-More Microgrids Coming To Remote Villages In India]

GridLogic – turnkey microgrid service

The GridLogic solution combines solar, batteries and controllable load in a solution tailored for the particular needs of customers anywhere in the world, be they a remote or island community or a facility such as a hospital or military base.

The solution includes dynamic monitoring and control to optimize the energy output, and is scalable from individual buildings up to whole communities. Components include SolarCity’s solar panels, lithium-ion battery system from Tesla Motors (Tesla CEO Elon Musk is SolarCity’s chairman and cousin of the company’s founders Peter and Lyndon Rive), and OpenADR-based dynamic load management. A full set of revenue-grade metering equipment can also be provided, along with billing and engagement tools.

Design, installation and maintenance of GridLogic is all handled in-house. And like the company’s other products and services, GridLogic comes with affordable financing options, including payment programmes with little to no upfront cost.

SolarCity claims that GridLogic can provide electricity to communities for less than they pay for utility power with the added benefit of backup power for emergency services.

According to a company statement, the first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters, marking nearly a fivefold increase over the 1970s. GridLogic will give communities around the world a cleaner, more affordable way to power critical resources and guarantee public safety and security in the aftermath of such events.

Solar Grid Storage’s Maryland microgrid

SunEdison’s ambition with the acquisition of Solar Grid Storage is to enable the offer of battery storage solution as a complement to its wind and solar systems. With a background in solar, SunEdison acquired the US wind developer First Wind in November 2014.

“Storage is a perfect complement to our business model and to our wind and solar expertise,” said Tim Derrick, general manager of SunEdison Advanced Solutions. “Our strategy is to increase the value of the solar and wind projects that we finance, develop, own, and operate by improving their availability and ability to interact with the grid.”

But Solar Grid Storage – which specialises in battery energy storage with its innovative PowerFactor inverter for sharing power to the grid – also brings with it microgrid experience: In 2013 the company was involved in building a 402kW solar microgrid for the headquarters of the community development Konterra, in Laurel, Maryland.

With SunEdison’s ambition to bring electrification to 20 million people in underserved communities across the world by 2020, microgrids will undoubtedly feature in a big way in this activity.