Welcome to our June issue, which highlights the evolution of the microgrid market. When HOMER Software was created, the focus was primarily on developing country applications like the Nigerian installation described in “Energy Access Brings Improved Quality of Life and Boosts Local Economies.” This is still a critical market, but no longer the only one.
Later, we modeled many arctic applications in places with good wind resources like western Alaska. Now the cost of solar PV has dropped so much that these arctic applications are no longer limited to places with good wind resources. We are starting to see more solar applications in the Far North region as described in the second part of the article. Although output is quite limited in the winter, with the proper inverters, controls and storage, the renewable energy production in the summer can be enough to completely turn off all diesel generators.
In addition to the falling prices for PV and batteries, many extreme weather events have gotten the world’s attention for microgrids as the resilience solution. The drought-caused wildfires in California and throughout the American West are one example that has prompted public safety power shutoffs for entire communities over multiple days. Microgrids are like the white knight coming in to save the day.
All of this increased activity needs government policies to support it, so I am pleased to announce the formation of Think Microgrids, a new coalition created to be an educational resource for policymakers and regulators in the U.S., and that HOMER Energy by UL is a founding member.
On a personal note, I’m honored to have been selected to serve on the community advisory panel for a partnership between the City of Boulder and Xcel Energy, our local utility. Boulder takes pride in being a leader in clean energy, so this should be quite interesting.