Microgrids: These are zones where energy can be managed autonomously. University campuses, industrial plants, and factories, are common examples. A microgrid can manage resources within its perimeter. These might include generation units — such as wind turbines, solar panels, and traditional fossil fuel generators — and energy storage. The microgrid weaves these power units into a single manageable whole. Power from the outside can be balanced with internal production. If needed, microgrids can run on an optional "islanded" mode, disconnected from outside power sources.
The rise of the 'Prosumer'
Microgrids keep electricity flowing no matter what conditions or events are at play. Demand is also an important part of the equation and can be managed by new digital technologies. A microgrid monitoring system, such as Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor, ensures that decisions can be made according to real-time conditions. It is possible to know when to generate power, when to store it and when to buy it. Stability, power quality and the financial outcome are all improved as a result. Renewable credentials can also be boosted since a microgrid makes it feasible to blend alternative power generation with traditional sources. Consumers of power can now be producers too. They can feedback to the grid which allows these independent 'prosumers' to make significant savings.