A microgrid is a stand-alone or interconnected cell of electrical power reliability. Just as the Internet comprises interconnected cells that can stand alone if necessary, the microgrid environment enables a hospital, military base or remote community to be self-sufficient. Special controllers ensure the appropriate flow of electricity from the side which has a surplus to the side requiring more – as and when needed.
Flexible and reliable
This is a very old idea, back in vogue now computers and switches are smart and fast enough to enable systems to work at the speed of electricity – with minimal risk or loss. Systems made up of microgrids are, in fact, more inherently reliable. Think of traditional energy provision as an oak tree. When the tree loses a branch, its leaves are deprived of energy and die. Microgrids, on the other hand, are more like moss or algae, spreading slowly and surely across the trunk. This builds a strong, close-knit network which can go on functioning despite the loss of branches – or outages in other parts of the system.
While baseload power and large-scale generation will be around for a long while, its use in many places is subsidised. Societies make a choice to have large-scale generation for many reasons. It’s an indisputable fact, however, that as much as one-third of all power is lost in transmission wires covering great distances. That’s a lot of ‘efficiency ground’ to make up. While balance is important, we believe that microgrids and microgeneration are vital elements. We can power a remote village or college campus, ensuring it can withstand storms threatening all the wires leading into it.