Opinion piece on current state of the microgrid market
- Jul 13, 2022 8:35 pm GMT
Frankly, I was quite disappointed at the state of the microgrid market after attending a 3-day conference sponsored by Microgrid Knowledge in Philadelphia, May 31-June 2nd, 2022.
The upshot of the conference was, to me, the most the industry could boast about was conversion of diesel emergency generators into gas powered replacements. We need to sectionalize the grids as Siemens pointed out. A company called Mainspring seems promising and had the ear of 800-pound gorilla Duke Energy, who was very prominent at the conference. Duke Energy seems kind of set in their ways to me.
The progress of microgrids, especially with renewable energy components is excruciatingly slow and presentations from DOE were quite impressive but I sense they do not have the knowledge or mandate on how to help implement large scale renewable energy microgrids. This seems to be largely the province of the private sector.
I started a company back in 2014 called Built Environment to retrofit existing large scale commercial buildings with CHP or Geothermal and not much has changed in my opinion since I decided that it took too long to get deals done.
The technology of green hydrogen appears to be at least five years away from being scalable and cost reduced sufficiently. Right now, gas turbines are still penciling out best (still seem to be cheaper than gas hydrogen) and many private sector projects are not even including battery storage in their projects. I heard at the conference that the military generally requires 2-hour 2MW capacity storage in their projects.
I am most disappointed that the interconnectivity between the central grids and the microgrids is not standardized to make it plug and play yet. Also, with utilities and grids like PJM delaying renewable projects for 2 years to evaluate connections, it makes me think that larger renewable energy microgrids will have to be built now, and ideally have future connectivity to a grid having portability built into the infrastructure so climate change adaptations/resilience can be accommodated.
I am looking to finance projects of $10 million and up that ideally have renewable energy components. Microgrids, Energy farms, and sectionalized grid project submissions are welcomed. I would also consider nuclear energy projects utilizing molten salt Thorium technology. Construction ready projects are strongly preferred.
I am acting in an advisory capacity and have 40 years' experience in financing these sorts of transactions.
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