The total worldwide capacity of distributed generation contained in microgrids will more than quintuple over the next six years, growing from 764 MW in 2012 to about 4,000 MW in 2018, valued at more than $12.7 billion in vendor revenues, according to a Pike Research report.
Microgrids — including generation facilities, distribution lines and voltage regulators — are an important accelerator for various kinds of distributed power generation, particularly from renewable sources, says the report, titled Microgrid Enabling Technologies.
Companies profiled in the report all offer some level of microgrid controls, from large industrial automation players such as GE, ABB and Siemens to smaller software companies including Power Analytics, Blue Pillar and Spirae. This report also profiles Arista Power, Younicos, Sustainable Power Systems, Pulse Energy and Better Place, which have not appeared in previous Pike Research microgrid reports.
The majority of distributed generation today is in the form of diesel generators and other fossil-fuel based systems, says Pike Research senior analyst Peter Asmus. But this will change over the forecast period.
Because of steep price drops for natural gas and solar photovoltaic panels, combined heat and power and solar PV systems will see the fastest growth of distributed power generation technologies by 2018, Asmus says.
Smart, bi-directional islanding inverters are also an important technology to enable distributed generation in microgrids. Over the course of the next six years, according to the report, the islanding function of inverters for renewable distributed energy generation, combined heat and power, fuel cells and energy storage will become much more prevalent.
While representing less than 5 percent of the total inverter market today, an islanding function could conceivably become a standard feature option for inverters over the next decade, Pike Research reports.
Last week, Ideal Power Converters said the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory had successfully demonstrated vehicle to grid (V2G) capabilities using its bi-directional battery converter.
A 2011 study by Pike Research said total installed generation capacity for campus microgrids will increase 164 percent between 2011 and 2017, rising from 620 MW to 1.6 GW, Environmental Leader reported.