With an increasingly distributed energy system, rapidly falling energy storage costs, and a growing demand for flexibility and energy autonomy, microgrids are fast becoming a key topic of commercial relevance in many global markets. In short, microgrids are one of the hottest topics in the industry right now - and key players don’t want to be left out.
This post reflects on the findings that emerged from the three polls we conducted during our recent 'Microgrids are coming - how can you benefit?' webinar. With the highest number of registrants a Delta-ee webinar has ever had, this in itself says a lot about the level of interest surrounding the topic. If you missed the webinar, it is available to watch again on YouTube here.
A graphical representation of a microgrid, with multiple distributed loads and generation assets.
Interest in microgrids is growing.
Where is the interest coming from?
Utility companies are actively exploring the opportunities and threats associated with the emergence of microgrids, as can be seen by the breakdown of the results from the 1st webinar poll.
However, manufacturers are also taking a keen interest in microgrids. For example, Delta-ee knows of a number of manufacturers who are developing microgrid solutions today with the objective of widening their service offerings to include energy services through an ESCo business model. The continued emergence of manufacturers offering energy services alongside their hardware is a very real threat to the established utilities in some countries / sectors.
If companies fell into the ‘Other’ category, we asked them to let us know who they represent and a significant proportion identified as housing developers or housing associations. The interest from these companies is noteworthy given the applicability of microgrids in a community energy application as a force to drive down energy prices and improve grid resiliency and reliability – in both urban and isolated contexts.
How active are the viewers in the development of microgrids?
The largest share of those watching the webinar (39%) stated that they are in the early stages of exploring and understanding microgrids as an opportunity, highlighting the relatively early nature of microgrid activity within many companies. While this result is not highly surprising given the nature of the webinar, what was perhaps most interesting is the large number of viewers (nearly a third) that are ‘actively engaged’ in developing microgrids but without having a fully developed strategy, product or service - yet.
What this suggests to us is that there are many companies that are currently in the ‘strategy development’ phase who are considering how best to position themselves to maximise the opportunities associated with this space. And it will only be a matter of time before many of these companies come to market.
Therefore, we can be sure that the ‘microgrid’ space will become a whole lot more competitive in the next 5 to 10 years.
What will be the greatest enabler for microgrid market growth?
Viewers saw the following factors as being important for microgrid growth over the next 5-10 years, from most to least important:
- Microgrid component price reductions,
- Innovative business models,
- Regulatory reform, and
- Increased promotion/competition.