Historically commercial and industrial microgrid use has been one of the smallest measured but the segment is as emerging as one of the most innovative microgrid markets.
According to a report by Guidehouse Insights, microgrid use was slow to grow across industry because companies couldn’t see the immediate benefit of implementing the energy source. Although, with increasing energy threats due to issues like power outages due to natural disasters and wider acceptance across sectors has led managers to move toward greater implementation of microgrids.
Microgrid spending in the commercial and industrial (C&I) market is expected to surpass $10 billion by 2030, according to the report. That is up from around $2 billion in 2021. Microgrid energy potential will rise to close to 7,000 megawatts by 2030 as well.
Some of the potential industry is seeing in microgrids comes from innovation in business models, the report says, especially with energy as a service (EaaS). Guidehouse said earlier in 2021 that C&I was benefiting from EaaS and innovation, including hardware and software technologies, along with the commoditization of solar PV and battery storage in the microgrid field, as financing was becoming easier to implement the projects.
Power reliability is also sought out for in commercial and industrial sectors, more than any other microgrid segment outside of the military, the report says. It also notes a positive that industry can replicate commercial success because of shorter development cycles than what communities or utilities can distribute.
General Motors is an example of one company that has used microgrids to help achieve a renewable energy goal. That company says it will hit 100% renewable energy use five years ahead of schedule, in part because of a carbon-free and resilient microgrid.
Other innovations are taking place in the field, such as Generac Power Systems developing natural gas generators that can be used in a variety of microgrid platforms and can be continuously monitored and maintained to increase reliability.
There are still areas that slow the growth of microgrid use in industry.
Large industry faces the lowest costs of electricity of any market segment, which could slow the motivation to make changes. The C&I segment often must make a value proposition to make transitions to microgrids due to a lack of state or federal funding support, the report says, other than incentives to initiatives for similar energy technologies such as solar or battery use. The overall economic benefit may also be scrutinized within companies.
According to Guidehouse, many companies also may see more of an immediate benefit for their energy reliability by using products like backup diesel generators. The report says remote microgrid use for in industry with high emissions could be a rising microgrid market because of increased regulations and pressure to use cleaner energy.
The report looked at potential use of both grid-tied microgrid use and remote microgrids among the C&I sector and analyzed all major regions.
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