A microgrid is a discrete energy system consisting of distributed energy sources (including demand management, storage, and generation) and loads capable of operating in parallel with, or independently from, the main power grid.
If the definition didn't clarify this for you, join millions in the same boat. So let’s break it down.
Discrete energy system - not necessarily part of the big utility grid, a part from the current system.
Demand management - you need it you got it, you don’t need it, it’s off (sort of)
Storage - This might be the most important part, batteries.
Load capable of operating in parallel with or independently from, the main power grid. That one is pretty self explanatory. The power is operational with the utility company or if something happens to the main utility like hurricanes, tornados, etc. the micro-grid can operate within a confined area.
These may be the biggest reasons why we care.
ATLANTIC TROPICAL (AND SUBTROPICAL) STORM 2017
Arlene, Harvey, Ophelia, Bret, Irma, Philippe, Cindy, Jose, Rina, Don, Katia, Sean, Emily, Lee, Tammy, Franklin, Maria, Vince, Gert, Nate, Whitney,
EASTERN NORTH-PACIFIC TROPICAL (AND SUBTROPICAL) STORM NAMES FOR 2017
Adrian, Irwin, Ramon, Beatriz, Jova, Selma, Calvin, Kenneth, Todd, Dora, Lidia, Veronica, Eugune, Max, Wiley, Fernanda, Norma, Xina, Greg, Otis,York, Hilary, Pilar, Zelda.
So now you know what microgrids are and you have a fairly good idea of why they are needed. In addition to concerns over increasing storms like the ones above we also need utility protection from raging fires that are on the increase (and I have no trouble saying this) due to global warming.
Another and also important reason is terrorism. For a brief look at this threat: Black Swan. Utilities are targets. According to the article (link above),
“On April 16, 2013, around 1:30 a.m., snipers opened fire for about 20 minutes on PG&E Corp’s (NYSE: PCG) Silicon Valley transmission substation, causing 17 transformers to overheat and crash.” It’s not hard to imagine how devastating a cyber attack would be on a utility company. Here in the mid-west we may not be terribly concerned with hurricanes but we have some strategic infrastructure here that is not target proof and all of it is tied to having energy.
Here is a little video that explains microgrid technology in brief. MICROGRID VIDEO