What is a grid-connected microgrid?

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By John Coates

Director Business Development APAC, eleXsys Energy. Developed during his formal education in Electronics and Communications Engineering, John has a passion for implementing new technologies to drive the adoption of renewable energy. Based in Singapore and having worked in senior positions at REC Solar and Cisco Systems, his experience provides a deep understanding of the technologies and industry fundamentals to assist in enabling eleXsys Energy to expand into APAC.

27 May 2020

To understand what a grid-connected microgrid is we will look at what a grid is, then what a microgrid is. We will then investigate connecting the two and the benefits that emerge.

What is the Grid?

“The Grid” is a term that represents the main electrical grid that all homes and businesses connect to. This is where a building connects to the poles and wires providing power to appliances and equipment. Traditionally this power comes from a central source such as coal, nuclear, solar farm, wind turbines or natural gas power plants. The grid (or the grid operator) is responsible for delivering this power continuously (no blackouts) and cleanly (stable), operating within specific voltage and frequency ranges (eg: 230V +/- 10% and 50Hz +/- 5%).

On the grid, a meter is installed at each connected property to measure the electricity consumed and subsequently billed which is important to understanding how a microgrid functions.

What is a microgrid?

A “microgrid” is a compressed version of the main electrical grid. It has energy sources (usually solar, wind, diesel and batteries) and can be standalone or connected to the grid from behind the meter.

These microgrids have been popular in remote areas such as islands. As costs of solar panels and batteries fall, these microgrids are now becoming economically viable in cities.

A microgrid, just like the grid, is designed to provide a balanced combination of generation and usage for a stable and clean supply of energy. In the case of grid-connected microgrids, one of the sources of power is the grid – not just solar and batteries.

Why blockchain is NOT a microgrid or used in our microgrid

There has been a lot of discussion about blockchain in solar and microgrid.

To clear this up, blockchain is a digital technology, not a physical one. It is used to measure or monitor electricity usage. It has no ability to generate electricity. In its simplest form, the blockchain technology is a meter, measuring power in or out.

A microgrid can operate without blockchain, and if connected behind the meter, and in the absence of commercial transactions behind that meter, there is little application for blockchain, or any metering technology.

Blockchain is a robust technology, with its true capabilities yet to be realised. However, to fully unlock its potential we need to consider the generation of electricity first and foremost, ensure it is provided in a stable and consistent fashion, then blockchain will complement the network.

eleXsys® with its award-winning and innovative behind the meter technology combined with blockchain technology represents a powerful opportunity for the democratization of renewable energy generation, consumption and distribution.

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