Microgrid systems connect energy loads, energy storage, and locally generated electricity, and usually have a single connection to the utility’s grid structure. This connection will automatically be disconnected to “island” the microgrid in case of a grid failure so that the microgrid system will continue to function.
Locally generated electricity comes from combined heat and power (CHP) units that provide a base load source of electricity from natural gas as a fuel, and solar and wind based electricity. Battery storage of electricity will add stability to the system and manage ramp up/ramp down variability.
Microgrids are established technology and are in service for critical application for school, hospitals, wastewater treatment plants, etc. The big potential is for distributed generation systems that interconnect the local generators and consumers of electricity and tie in to the grid. Locally produced electricity from private sector businesses such as supermarkets, service stations, laundries, food processing plants, manufacturers, etc. will be lower in costs and the micro-grid will maintain continuity of operation.
According to GTM Research NY already has about 80 micro-grids with a combined capacity of about 200 MW.