What is a Microgrid? The clue is in the name – a microgrid is a small-scale version of a power grid. Instead of power being distributed to consumers from large, distant sources, local grids combine smaller power sources and consumers into an independent network. The microgrid can function alone, or connect to the larger power grid as a back-up.
When part of the main power grid goes down, large numbers of electricity users can be affected – consider a single downed transmission line knocking out power to an entire town. If a network can operate independently, generating its own power, it can be much more resilient. This is especially important for remote and isolated communities.
Any combination of connected small-scale of consumers and power generating sources – solar panels, batteries, wind turbines, diesel generators, steam turbines – can be classed as a microgrid, so long as the network can operate independently. However, the clean energy possibilities of renewable-only microgrids are causing the biggest buzz.