The Future of Microgrids
Coming to a Neighborhood near You
The January/February 2013 “In My View” column titled “Off the Grid! Off the Grid!” by Associate Editor Gerry Sheblé was a forerunner to the theme of this issue. In that piece, Gerry describes the encompassing ongoing effort in Sydney, Australia, to literally get its infrastructure off the grid by utilizing myriad technologies to achieve this goal. And, as we shall explore in this issue, Sydney is not alone in moving towards this approach.
The guest editors of this issue, Ralph Masiello and Mani Venkata, have titled their guest editorial “Microgrids: There May Be One in Your Future.” Their answer is a resounding yes, and the articles they are introducing offer proof of this conclusion. After citing multiple reasons for reaching that conclusion, they offer “there is enough activity in the microgrid world today that multiple market research studies are touting billions of dollars of microgrid business in the next few years.” That claim will be backed by the information contained in the seven feature articles that cover the theme of our issue.
In This Issue
The seven microgrid articles will be introduced in detail in the “Guest Editorial” authored by Ralph and Mani. They cover operating facilities, ongoing R&D projects, demonstration projects, resiliency to military facilities, rural electrification, the economics of microgrids, and then an update of three different operating microgrid systems in France that concludes with a future vision based on the experiences.
Edward Krapels, CEO of Anbaric Power, has provided our issue with a thoughtful and insightful “In My View” column. He cites Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the northeastern United States in 2012, as a case in point for the utilization of microgrids where critical institutions could have remained operational. Ed also provides a primer in his review of the challenges in place that obstruct the deployment of microgrids and offers his thoughts and suggestions for alleviating the bottlenecks that exist today. Indeed, an erudite and intelligent presentation and a fitting close to a provocative and informative issue.
We believe that the issue delves into a wide range of issues associated with the development and operation of microgrids and offers a source for further study of this timely and critical subject. My thanks to the authors and to Ralph and Mani for a job truly well done.
Disturbances of the Geomagnetic Kind
Predictions regarding increased solar activity in the foreseeable future abound this year. Articles have appeared in IEEE Spectrum as well as in mainstream media offering grim news about possible widespread failures in the world’s electric power systems resulting in massive blackouts. In reaction to these doomsday scenarios, the PES Technical Council has empowered a Task Force on Geomagnetic Disturbance to address the issue and provide a scientific and engineering analysis of the complex parameters that geothermal disturbances cause and may impact power systems. The initial report that the task force produced is offered in this issue as our eighth article. Its title is “Geomagnetic Disturbances: Their Impact on the Power Grid,” and it offers a technical review of the subject, discusses approaches to mitigate potential impacts, and describes ongoing industry efforts to address potential and future problems. Note that in recognition of the significance and timeliness of this subject, a Super Session at the 2013 General Meeting in Vancouver will be presented covering geomagnetic disturbances and geomagnetic induced currents and their impacts on the grid.
The “Society News” column is focused on the forthcoming IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) elections where we will be selecting our 2014–2015 PES officers. The elections, which will commence in August, will be contested by two highly qualified candidates for each of the positions of president-elect (Damir Novosel and Bruno Meyer), secretary (Mini Thomas and Lina Bertling Tjernberg), and treasurer (Jovica Milanovic and Christopher Root). The column will introduce each of the candidates with photos, biographies, and candidate statements. Given the importance of these elections, this column is required reading for all PES members.