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When presenting this question to product managers, engineers, and business developers in market leading companies in the European energy sector, I discovered a world of potential for many different applications; not only in remote areas where they would normally be implemented but also in grid connected spaces with operational needs to be fulfilled.
I learned how complex microgrids can be, especially if based on intermittent renewable energy sources. But I also discovered how flexible they could be and how they could help the wider energy system that is becoming increasingly challenged both by generation connected at low voltage levels and new demands for electricity for heating and mobility.
“Black Start” is the process by which the National Electricity Transmission System (NETS) would be recovered following a total system collapse. This is a not uncommon occurrence in some regions of the world but thankfully) unheard of in the UK; that does not mean we should not plan for such an eventuality.
However, the current approach, which requires the constant availability of a thermal plant on hot standby, is costly in both environmental and financial terms (around £50 million annually).
Energy is becoming more distributed and localised. We’re seeing the emergence of local energy communities, Microgrids and a whole plethora of potentially disruptive business models. To some this represents a challenge to their core business, to others it promises exciting new opportunities.
Today’s Distribution System Operators may fear the threat of grid defection. Even if there remain substantial income generating assets, these may become under-utilised and incrementally less profitable as new entrants cherry-pick the more profitable parts.
In a previous blog post, fellow Analyst Tom Jamieson introduced the concept of using blockchain technology in the energy sector. In this post we’ll introduce how a particular use case of the technology, peer-to-peer (P2P) trading, could have a positive impact on microgrids.
Microgrids, as discussed previously in a Delta-ee blog post and webinar, are fast becoming a key topic of commercial relevance in many global markets. This is due to an increasingly distributed energy system, rapidly falling energy storage costs, and a growing demand for flexibility and energy autonomy among other aspects.
Microgrids are coming.
This week, Wärtsilä announced the acquisition of Greensmith Energy, the US-based system integrator and software company which specialises in developing grid-scale energy storage solutions. This move marks the latest milestone for Wärtsilä as they continue to diversify into hybrid power solutions (and microgrids), including the integration of solar PV and energy storage alongside their traditional engine-based power generation offerings. The acquisition is expected to be completed in July 2017.
In April last year, Wärtsilä announced that it would enter the solar energy business by offering utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) solutions. The new solutions included solar PV power plants of 10 MWe and above, and hybrid power plants comprising solar PV installations and internal combustion engines. Both solutions are offered with full engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) capability. Wärtsilä has previously set a target of delivering 200 MWe of solar installations by 2018. It’s not clear whether this target will be revised following the acquisition. What is clear, however, is that Wärtsilä is serious about hybrids and moving outside their comfort zone of manufacturing and selling engines.
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