1. What are the main advantages of microgrid projects and why should companies invest in them?
The energy system is undergoing a profound change that will involve its core. The major transformation will see a difference in how the energy is consumed, with the final users seeing their role increase in importance like never before. In order to achieve that, a truly distributed system has to be implemented, to give the users the power they have been asked to be entitled to. Microgrids are the key to start deploying a fully-distributed system. They are the main tool to enable the revolution, and those who will invest now in microgrids are not just investing in a new grid topology to improve energy efficiency or enable RES access into it, they are instead choosing to be part of the revolution from within.
2. Can you tell us something about an interesting project you have worked on?
The Sustainable Powering of Off-grid REgions (SPORE) microgrid project, whose consortium was made by Engie, Schneider Electric and the Nanyang Technology University. The innovation was the realization of an Energy Management System that takes into account the needs of the communities within which the microgrid would have been installed, handling a variety of assets (conventional and renewable electrical, hydrogen, thermal…) so as to enrich users’ possibilities and enable them to gradually convert their system into a more sustainable one.
3. Which of the renewable energies has the most potential in your opinion?
Any RES that can be modular, accessible, easily replaceable and open to improvements can be capable of enabling users’ participation and thus represents the possibility of a fully decentralized system. At the moment, PV solar coupled with storage devices (batteries, e-vehicles…) seems to be the one that responds to these requirements.
4. What is the future of microgrids in Europe? What projects are on the horizon?
Interest in microgrids is rising slowly but steadily, but most of the investments are being made outside Europe. I can recognize two different reasons: one is the higher margin in R&D&D outside Europe, the other is the yet unclear legal framework. Lately, with the Winter Package, the EU is dealing with these issues by also demanding Member States to recognize energy communities, whatever their composition.