Micro-Grids: Solid Prospect for Mexico’s Energy TransmissionBy Cas Biekmann | Wed, 06/17/2020 - 17:08
A micro-grid is a smaller, localized group of energy sources. While it is usually connected to the larger, regular grid and is, therefore, synchronized, it has the advantage that it can also operate autonomously in “Island Mode,” according to research by Berkeley Lab. While micro-grids do have their weaknesses, there are many other benefits. Therefore, it could prove an interesting option for updating Mexico’s grid system.
Some of these advantages include a higher level of energy efficiency, lower environmental impact due to the incorporation of renewable energies and an increase in reliability of energy supply. There are further benefits for the general network, which include reduced energy losses, lower risks of congestion, easier control over voltage and a more cost-efficient option to replace failing parts of the infrastructure. Adaptation of micro-grids and related technologies are steadily marching ahead: “We have to start thinking in terms of electric micro-grids. It is undeniable that solar power is headed toward storage and smart-grid solutions,” said Diego Molina, General Manager Latin America and Caribbean of Seraphim Solar to MER.
Another, more philosophical aspect to micro-grids is suggested by Berkeley Labs as well: as the grid is locally controlled, communities or authorities in charge of it will likely make more balanced choices regarding investment and integrating new technologies.
The main lure of a micro-grids can be found in how the interact with the macro-grid. All of the micro-grids’ separate energy sources can be coordinated to be consistent with the general grid’s standard, meaning that there is no new investment necessary to integrate energy coming from distributed generation, for instance. The grids can be constructed following the Smart Grid concept, which can easily be monitored and distributed. One example of companies working with smart grids is Newcomb Anderson McCormick. Director Steven Clark told MER that even though the company does not commit to a single technology, it does see benefits for communities in micro-grids, referring to a specific project: “This micro-grid aims to help the community meet its energy related needs in the areas of reliability, resiliency, environmental impacts and economic impacts,” Clark said.
In California, local authorities are now planning to adopt micro-grids and battery storage, reported Forbes. The move was spurred by the state’s recent issues with wildfires, which destroyed everything in their path, from houses to energy infrastructure. A traditional grid would suffer blackouts from this type of destruction. Lawmakers hope that the micro-grid’s “Island Mode” and its storage capacity could withstand the issues. California is considered a frontrunner when it comes to adopting renewables in its energy mix. It should be noted that trends that are successful in California could be similarly fruitful in Mexico. Micro-grids, therefore, remain a promising prospect within the Mexican context.