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What’s a Nanogrid?

Linda Hardesty

Navigant Energy Manage

Nanogrids are small microgrids, typically serving a single building or a single load. Navigant Research has developed its own definition of a nanogrid as being 100 kW for grid-tied systems and 5 kW for remote systems not interconnected with a utility grid.

In many ways, nanogrids appear to be an even more radical rewiring and rethinking of the world’s energy future than microgrids, according to Navigant’s report “Nanogrids: Grid-Tied and Remote Commercial, Residential, and Mobile Distribution Networks: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts.”

Nanogrids mimic the innovation that is rising up from the bottom of the pyramid and capturing the imagination of growing numbers of technology vendors and investment capital, particularly in the smart building and smart transportation spaces, says Navigant. In other ways, nanogrids are more conventional than microgrids since they do not directly challenge utilities in the same way. Nanogrids are restricted to a single building or a single load, and therefore do not bump up against regulations prohibiting the transfer or sharing of power across a public right-of-way.

From a technology point of view, perhaps the most radical idea behind nanogrids is a clear preference for direct current (DC) solutions, whether these systems are connected to the grid or operate as standalone systems, according to Navigant.

Despite the small scale of nanogrid solutions, a number of familiar names are already active in these nanogrid markets, among them Bosch, Eaton, Emerson Network Power, Johnson Controls, and NRG Energy. Navigant Research forecasts that global nanogrid vendor revenue will grow from $37.8 billion in 2014 to $59.5 billion in 2023.



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