After a bumpy first half of 2020 caused by pandemic-related slowdowns, solar microgrids are showing signs of a renewed growing interest.
There are several factors at play contributing to the sunny forecast for microgrids, including pandemic-related demand spikes and more favorable statewide policies. EPCs and project developers looking to find new inroads into this rapidly emerging market should take note of these trends.
Businesses want more energy resiliency
A recent report from Wood Mackenzie showed a record 546 microgrids installed in 2019, more than any years prior. This follows a trend of smaller, more modular projects (below 5MW) growing considerably since 2017. This growth is making microgrids extremely attractive to a wide-range of investors. Wood Mackenzie analysts forecast that by 2025, renewable energy, including solar, will account for 35 percent of annually installed microgrid capacity.
The Wood Mackenzie report mirrors the findings of a recent national survey of businesses from across sectors conducted by Deloitte. Their findings showed that 44 percent of respondents are considering microgrids, a sizable jump from 35 percent that said the same last year. The businesses cited the need for the resiliency in microgrids that can combat the rising number of outages they’ve experienced in the past year.
Disaster-related demand for distributed energy
While the pandemic has stalled some projects, commissioning and permitting processes, many industry analysts expect this to be just a slight hiccup.
However, due to the shifting energy demand as more people work from home and practice social distancing, existing power systems are more likely to face disruptions. It’s during these times that demand rises for microgrids supported by renewable resources. Since microgrids can operate both while connected to the grid or disconnected in island mode, it allows for greater resiliency and flexibility during natural or man-made disasters.
Several sectors that are likely to benefit most from microgrids during these times include projects that support vital medical and other fundamental infrastructure needs. Market segments that benefit from shelter at home, social distancing and remote employee trends are also strong candidates for microgrids.
Policy initiatives foster microgrid growth
Around the country, states are implementing policies to further promote the growth of microgrids.
California Public Utilities Commission recently fast-tracked a rule-making process to help accelerate the deployment of microgrids and related resiliency solutions. Microgrids have the potential to play a significant role in helping to resolve California’s grid uncertainty due to wildfire-related safety shut-offs.
Energy co-ops in North Carolina, particularly along the eastern seaboard, are also making major inroads with microgrids to help protect against weather-related disasters. Much of the coast is especially vulnerable to power outages from high winds and flooding in addition to its isolation from central generation sources.
Similarly, New Jersey is taking significant steps to implement more storm-resilient energy after learning a tough lesson following Superstorm Sandy’s landfall in 2012. The state has recently commissioned 13 microgrids, all funded by the state’s Board of Public Utilities.
How Trina’s C&I Solutions can help
As an emerging sector, solar microgrids require a specialized approach to system design, permitting, installation and interconnection.
The pros on Trina Solar’s C&I Solutions team know how to navigate the market, supply chains and permitting channels needed for successful microgrid projects. From customized site design to streamlined procurement, Trina’s all-in-one C&I Solutions make it easier for commercial EPCs and project developers.
Click here to learn more about how Trina’s C&I Solutions can help.
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