Electricity microgrids going mainstream

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Microgrids – little islands of shared electricity generation and use, independent of the centralized grid – are poised to become a macro force in energy markets.

A report from Navigant Research forecasts that microgrids will become a $100 billion sector by 2028. Growth will come largely in Asia’s Pacific region and North America, with Europe lagging.

In North America, power outages are sparking the development; in Asia, it’s the lack of electricity infrastructure. The continuing plunge in the price of solar and wind-energy technology underpins this trend.

Regulators haven’t yet figured out their role in permitting microgrids, or how they should relate to existing electrical grids. Development and economic necessity will outpace regulatory actions and are likely to help shape any government controls or oversight.

TRENDPOST: Centralized electrical systems gradually will disappear from parts of the map over time. Rural areas are likely to separate earlier, in whole or part, from core electrical grids. Cities might find centralized power sources more practical, using microgrids as backups or where conditions permit.