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07.26.2021

Should Your Microgrid Stand Alone or Tie to the Grid?

Dustin Scaife | Distributed Energy Resources/Microgrids

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A microgrid is a system that generates or produces energy with the purpose of powering a distinct area, such as a business, hospital or neighborhood. Microgrids are becoming a more popular energy solution for several reasons, including their resiliency, ability to control energy costs, to bring power to remote regions and to produce and store on-site renewable energy. There are two requirements for a distributed energy resource to be considered a microgrid:

1. It must utilize a decentralized, distributed energy source. An example might be solar power with battery storage for a remote lodge or emergency facility.

2. It must have the ability to operate without the grid present. This ability is often called “island mode.” That means supplemental renewable energy sources are only considered a microgrid if they can disconnect from the traditional grid and still provide power, if needed.

Should You Connect to the Grid?

When considering a microgrid, how do you determine if it should stand alone or tie to the utility grid? There are benefits and drawbacks to each option.

  • Being tied into the grid provides more flexibility and more choices. The microgrid solution doesn’t need to cover your entire facility load at all times. Even if your microgrid has the capability to cover your entire load, remaining tied to the grid allows for flexibility as your energy needs grow over time.
  • Another benefit of a grid-tied microgrid is the ability to share or sell unused energy. In some cases, a grid-tied system provides the opportunity to push excess energy production back to the traditional grid to help support the surrounding community as needed. In some situations, the utility will compensate you for this over-generation.
  • One of the main advantages of an off-grid microgrid is that since you are the only one connected, you don’t have to worry about how your system affects anyone else. The microgrid can be configured specifically to your needs, independent of traditional grid regulations. It also isolates you completely from grid outages or security breaches.

Determining the Best Microgrid Solution

One of the most common misconceptions people have is that a microgrid isn’t possible based on their site limitations or significant energy requirements. In truth, we can always offer an option to consider, even if that solution will only provide resiliency for a subset of your facility load. EnTech Solutions can evaluate almost unlimited configurations and combinations using a simulation tool called Energy DNA™ (Dynamic Needs Analysis). This proprietary modeling software enables us to enter information specific to your site in order to develop the best solution. In fact, we can iterate the model hundreds of times in just a few days to provide several alternatives that meet your project goals and budget requirements. Every microgrid we develop combines a blend of resources in order to maximize the results based on existing variables.

For more information about a microgrid solution to meet your needs, please reach out. The energy experts at EnTech Solutions are always happy to share our insights and offer guidance as you explore opportunities for cost-effective, resilient, sustainable and scalable microgrid energy.