I recently attended UNC’s Clean Tech Summit where I heard the term “microgrid” over and over when discussing the future of energy and the nation’s electric grid in particular. According to the US Department of Energy, microgrids are “are localized grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances to strengthen grid resilience.”
The interest in microgrids continues to grow, in part, because of strong support from the Department of Defense (DOD). The 2015 Military & Government Microgrids Summit website states that “the DOD is establishing a network of microgrids at over 40 military bases, and are investigating the deployment of mobile microgrids at its 600+ forward operating bases.” Military leaders see microgrids as a component of energy independence and also a means to protect against possible cyberattacks. A June 2014 article describes how NC’s Fort Bragg is leading the way in the deployment of microgrid technologies.
And Duke Energy unveiled a microgrid test project in Mount Holly, NC earlier this year. According to a Feb 2015 article in greentechmedia, this project “will incorporate a solar- and battery-powered microgrid, capable of islanding from the grid for short periods of time and running on its own power. Unlike almost all the microgrids now running today, Duke [Energy]’s will have no backup generators or other spinning power resources.”
For those of you who teach about microgrids or want to update your instruction to include microgrids, I have compiled some resources that might be useful:
Microgrids | Microgrids at Berkeley Lab (includes example of microgrids)
Please share other, related resources or activities that can be used to introduce students to microgrids and/or other ways to promote grid resilience.