Microgrid is a small grid, which works independently. They represent a paradigm shift from a remote central station power plant towards more localized, distributed power generation. It is a group of connected loads that act as a single entity. Microgrid which consists of several parallel-connected resources with electronically controlled strategies is said to be hybrid. Renewable energy-based hybrid grids are used in remote areas to solve the problems of power supply. The power grids are joined at a point of common coupling that maintains the voltage at the same level, acting as a supplement power to the main grid, when the demand is high. In case, the main power grid does not supply energy, then the microgrid fulfills the need for power. It can break off and operate on its own using local energy generation in times of crisis such as during storms, power outages, or for other reasons. Generators, batteries, and/or renewable resources like solar panels are the sources for its power supply. Distributed generation, loads, immediate storage, controller, and point of coupling are some of the components of a microgrid controller. Its size may vary and the excess power can be sold to such utilities where power outages cannot be tolerated such as hospitals, military base, and other locations.
Microgrids can be classified into various types such as military and security grids, remote grids, commercial and industrial grids. During a national catastrophe, data is maintained by the military and security microgrids. Commercial grids cater to a specific industry, whereas remote grids serve geographical regions, such as islands and other remote locations.
There are various advantages of microgrids such as increased efficiency, minimization of complete energy consumption, reduced environmental impact, and up-gradation of reliable power supply. Additionally, network operational benefits include a reduction in power loss, congestion relief, voltage control, or security of supply and cost-efficient electricity infrastructure replacement. Microgrids have a good coordination system, and hence, serves the surrounding community of grids by providing a platform to support critical services from hosting first responder and governmental functions to providing key and emergency services. Using a proper design, a regional power grid combining both central plants and distributed microgrid can be built at a lesser total cost with higher reliability.
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Microgrids are operated in two steady states — one is grid connected and the other is landed. Its main ability is to disconnect from the main supply and operate independently. Grid failure is also checked and carbon dioxide emission is reduced. Renewable sources are mainly used. Hence, they are more eco-friendly with lower carbon footprints. Microgrids are cost-effective when we tap into renewable sources of energy. Solar energy is available everywhere, whereas wind, mini-hydro, geothermal, and biomass are regionally available energy resources.
Microgrid system requires battery storage with high installation cost. They are not governed by standard regulations and legislation, which makes its protection difficult. Resynchronization with the utility grid is also a difficulty, which the microgrid faces. Market monopoly is one of the issues faced by the Microgrid market, which acts a barrier for its widespread implementation. ..
In this era, microgrid has an immense power to reduce blackouts and deal with power deficiencies. Also, its self-sufficiency helps to supply power without any interruption to the customers. Its implementation requires reconstructing electrical standards, which requires a certain amount of time. There are many places, especially in remote areas, where electricity is not available, hence, the microgrid is the one and only sustainable and reliable option.
Microgrid is an answer to our energy crisis that reduces transmission losses as well. Critical loads are supplied with high-quality energy. IEEE has recommended that the maximum capacity of a microgrid is 10 MVA. For larger loads, many microgrids are interconnected by forming power parks. Micro sources are generally installed near the customers’ vicinity so that electrical/heat load can easily be supplied with satisfactory voltage and frequency profile.
High technology products such as nano solar cells and nano supercapacitors will make microgrids with storage capacity a reality. Power electronic control systems and advances in automation will also work to upgrade the microgrid system. Mini nuclear plants can act as an ideal source of energy for the microgrids.
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