Microgrids for Commercial and Industrial Customers Grow in Popularity

A series of announcements among vendors and consultants address the expected growth in microgrids for commercial and industrial (“C&I”) customers. Navigant has projected a worldwide market for commercial and industrial microgrids that will grow from 448 MW (per year) in 2017 to 5,389 MWs (per year) in 2026; and in North America a growth of 16.8% CAGR from 215 MW (per year) in 2017 to 870 MWs (per year) in 2026. Schneider Electric also has reported a strong level of interest among C&Is for microgrids. Main prime mover vendors, such as ABB, Caterpillar, General Electric, Siemens and Wartsila have also announcement product offerings.


Commercial and Industrial accounts and others are seeking improved reliability and resilience from physical and cyber interruptions, the opportunity to sell excess power to others and the opportunity to achieve lower costs. It is still, however, at an early stage for many users. Microgrids can be as simple as solar plus storage, combined heat and power with battery storage or be electric grids that are part of the larger control area and fully integrated into the modern grid.


Large vendors are notably offering integrated gas-fired generation, solar and storage solutions for customers. This allows customers to benefit from low cost integrated solutions and improve their reliability and resiliency from outside events. For example, Wartsila announced in May the acquisition of Greensmith (“Greensmith”) Energy Management Systems, Inc. to their portfolio. Wartsila has sold 63 GWs of generation in 176 countries. Greensmith has developed a proprietary software platform for battery systems-GEMS5. Greensmith has been an active player in PJM grid level battery storage and has a reported developing 180 MWs of battery systems in 50 different applications. Their energy management battery control platform is well regarded with endorsements from E.ON and AEP. Wartsila has announced earlier adding solar to its energy solutions product offering. The addition of Greensmith allows Wartsila to have a more complete global energy system integration platform. Other major vendors have been addressing the needed product depth to offer complete energy systems platforms. And the offerings from many companies is quite impressive.


The Microgrid purchaser has a number of emerging choices in this market and the best system will result from a rigorous procurement process and by comparing the benefits and costs of the various systems available. It is an exciting time to be in the market as various product offerings continue to grow and develop.