Thanks to the declining costs of solar panels, rising cost of diesel and investments in energy storage, the remote microgrid market will keep growing from its current $3 billion plus in hardware and software sales to more than $8 billion by 2020, according to a Navigant Research report.
The report, Remote Microgrids, talks about how today’s microgrids target niche markets like off-grid commodity extraction facilities, physical islands burning diesel fuel for power, rural villages in the developing world and mobile and tactical applications for military agencies.
Aside from the favorable cost factor and improved energy storage technologies that are emerging, other key market drivers include efforts by governments to provide access to energy in the developing regions and efforts by large technology companies such as ABB, Boeing, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Samsung, SMA and Toshiba to secure a place in the emerging microgrid market.
Growth is also driven by increasing interest among financial institutions in new business models for energy delivery, including onsite power generation. The proliferation of cell phone usage has also prompted demand for electricity in remote regions of the world, Navigant says.
Demand in developing countries for electrical power will grow rapidly when compared to demand in other parts of the world, since the International Energy Agency estimates developing regions will need to double electrical power supply by 2020. From a vendor revenue perspective, Navigant says that remote systems are very robust because of assumed 24/7 performance, which requires significant investments in both hardware and software. On a per-kilowatt basis, remote microgrids represent a 50 percent to 100 percent cost premium over equivalent grid-tied microgrid installations, so the smaller the system, the higher the per-unit value.
In May report, Navigant found that as a region, North America is the world’s leading market for microgrids with a planned, proposed, and deployed capacity of 2,505 MW. The 2Q 2013 Microgrid Deployment Tracker from Navigant finds this represents an additional 55 projects since the 4Q 2012 Tracker and an additional 417 MW.