Sometime last year, our Monday morning meeting got a little off track. Normally, these meetings are designed to kick off the week and set out a road map on how to get everything done, and give our teams the resources they need to go above and beyond. The topic that got us off topic was microgrids.
More and more of our clients are aggressively looking to take care of their own energy futures. For even some of the largest manufacturers and facilities, the point at which managing their own energy use and energy supply is near. As we face larger projects, the term microgrid itself seems to have a changing definition. At what point does a microgrid service a simple, single, isolated function, no matter the required output, and begin to affect the grid at large, a network it isn’t even connected with.
After some discussion, we came up with an answer: when the microgrid replaces the grid, it ceases to be micro, even if that totality comes through a myriad number of microgrids.
Just last week, news came that truly illustrated the point. One way we’ve explained or thought about microgrids is by imagining an island. Whether five feet across or the size of an entire state, the island needs to support its own energy ecosystem. It is separated from other sources by water, and its usage is largely limited to the occupants of its own space. Of course, the only external use of that island’s energy might be spent to leave the island itself, but that’s another debate.
Here’s that debate in the flesh. Tasmania is pushing to power one of its smaller island parks with sustainable power, creating what would be an every self-sufficient island adjacent to a much larger island, Tasmania itself. Admittedly, it’s a small project, creating just 65MWh per year, enough to power the island’s National Park Service installations on the island. Combining a solar array and energy storage batteries of an unspecified capacity. The move will end the long-running process of transporting diesel fuel to the island to power a generator.
Thinking ahead, we’re hopeful that similar projects will further support investment and advancement in energy storage capacity and sustainable energy production to help turn more and more microgrids into microgrid islands, jumping from Maria Island to Tasmania, and eventually to communities and municipalities to eventually erase the idea of regional grid-scale power that is reliant on fossil fuels.
For more, check out this piece on the project.
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