IEEE Power Systems of the Future: The Case for Energy Storage, Distributed Generation, and Microgrids

The following are some excerpts from the report related to microgrids. The complete report can help our readers get a good understanding of the trends in the vision for the future.

This study was conducted by surveying 460 global smart grid executives in September of 2012. Respondents were asked 25 questions on energy storage, distributed generation and microgrids. The survey was conducted on the Internet.

Key findings related to Microgrids:

  • Benefits of microgrids most often chosen were to meet local demand, to enhance grid reliability, and to ensure local control of supply. Because microgrids contain technology from distributed generation and storage, the challenges from those two technologies are transferable to microgrids
  • The top three industries most likely to deploy microgrids over the next five years are healthcare/hospitals, government (military and non-military), and utilities.
  • Europe is the global region that will see the most growth in microgrids over the next five years
  • Thirty nine percent of respondents indicated global capacity for microgrids would increase by up to 5 gigawatts over the next 5 years. Another 28% said global capacity would increase by 5.1 gigawatts to 10 gigwatts over the next 5 years
  • The need for standards was more important for developing microgrids (when compared to distributed generation and energy storage)
  • Enabling technologies that were most important were: energy management systems, distribution management systems, communications technologies, and sensors

The survey results presented in the report offer key insights about the market opportunities for energy storage, distributed generation, and microgrids. The assessment about microgrids and recommendations that can assist in advancing their deployment as published in the report are:


  • Microgrids deployments will increase significantly over the next five years. Microgrid use in mission-critical operations for governments and the military will create lucrative opportunities for manufacturers and technology vendors
  • Deployments and pilots in North America and Europe will also pave the way for large-scale installations in the developing world. Further, the emergence of sustainable or smart cities and communities will advance the of adoption microgrids
  • The microgrid opportunity has yet to be seized by a single manufacturer or technology vendor. Thus, the next five years will see the emergence of many firms seeking to tap into this market, but only a handful will emerge with the contacts, technology, and value proposition to survive the market shake-out


  • Rapidly growing countries and rural communities will increasingly deploy microgrids to meet their electricity needs. Additionally, hospital facilities, military facilities, and government buildings will be amongst the first to deploy microgrids over the next five years
  • Microgrid deployments will stall without the development of standards and strong industry R&D
  • An array of enabling technology opportunities will be borne from the microgrid market. Particularly, opportunities will be lucrative for providers of communica-tions technologies, energy management systems, distribution management sys-tems, and sensors


  • Microgrid developers and solution providers should optimize their offerings to meet the current and future needs of hospitals and military facilities in the developing world
  • The developing world will not be able to sustain their economic growth if they try to build centralized electrical systems/grids (such as those in the U.S.)
  • Thus, industry stakeholders should develop advanced distributed energy systems (including microgrids) that are scalable and affordable to meet the future energy needs of the developing world
  • Stakeholders should set a timeline or agenda to develop standards for microgrids

The top three benefits of microgrids defined in the report were:

  • Meet local demand (49%)
  • Enhance grid reliability (36%)
  • Ensure local control of supply (30%)

The top three industries most likely to deploy microgrids over the next five years were reported to be:

  • Healthcare/hospitals (44%), military (43%), and a near tie for third
  • Government (non-military) (40%)
  • Utilities (39%)

Several areas were rated on their importance to deploying and/or developing microgrids and the top three rated revealed:

  • Standards (66%)
  • Industry R&D (64%)
  • Integrating renewables such as wind and solar (55%)

Enabling technologies for microgrids were rated as to their importance to integrating microgrids.

The three highest rated were: a four-way near tie as very important among communication technologies (60%), energy management systems (60%), distribution management systems (60%), and sensors (59%); network management software (54% said very important); and software operations systems (52% said very important).


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