Peter Asmus is a research director leading Guidehouse Insights’ Microgrids solution and supporting the Microgrids Tracker and Virtual Power Plants solutions. His focus is on emerging energy distribution networks models, and his expertise includes wind energy, marine hydrokinetic technologies, and renewables. Asmus has over twenty-eight years of experience in energy and environmental markets as an analyst, writer, book author, and consultant.
As climate change drives more extreme weather events, including the recent massive power outages in Texas due to an unprecedented cold snap, the need for greater grid resilience is clearly growing. Whether extreme cold or heat (or wildfires), this is the new normal.
Even as the economy, including transportation, becomes increasingly electrified, the performance of our nation's power grid continues to decline in reliability due to aging and outdated infrastructure.
Although California's utilities have developed some temporary fixes to the wildfire threat — Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) — longer-term solutions are clearly needed. Relying upon traditional diesel backup generators is a temporary stopgap measure for some critical facilities, yet they do not represent a viable solution over the long-term.
There has got to be a better way. It is time to boldly step into the future with more sustainable solutions that offer much greater value to ratepayers, utilities, and the environment. In short, we need microgrids, and we need them now.
What is a microgrid? It is what it sounds like, a small grid. Its defining feature is the ability to create an island of power when the larger grid that surrounds it goes down.
The biggest question mark in California, Texas, and the rest of the U.S., revolves around determining the best role for utilities with microgrids during this fundamental shift rippling through energy markets.