Microgrids focus on security, creating needs for UPS storage
By: SGN Staff
By Steve Minnihan
Recently, at the Microgrid: Military and Commercial Conference in Arlington, VA, microgrid technology developers and system integrators re-examined the business case for the microgrid and the integration of energy storage. The presenters and attendees reached consensus on numerous topics, but it still remains uncertain how energy storage should be economically assessed.
First, the group repeatedly made the argument that the primary job and rationale for a microgrid is for increased security, rather than reduced electricity costs or fuel emissions. While alternate revenue streams from ancillary services or energy arbitrage can offset the cost of a microgrid, the tech developers and system integrators agreed that a customer must place a dollar value on increased reliability and energy security in order to justify the high cost of the microgrid.
Second, many microgrid developers and operators reported promising data demonstrating that lithium-ion batteries and flow batteries are fully capable of providing exceptional renewable integration services in microgrid scenarios. Data showed that these battery technologies are capable of mitigating the power, voltage, and frequency fluctuations that distributed solar causes, bringing all of these values within acceptable operating limits.
Despite this promising operational data, nearly all presenters and attendees agreed that the battery technologies remain prohibitively expensive for this application, while customers and developers opt to invest in more advanced flexible supervisory controls in order to balance the microgrid loads and generation.