By Michael Mock
The United States’ electrical grid is fragile. Recent disruptions in power supply, especially due to Hurricane Sandy, are stark reminders that a grid failure is devastating to a society that is increasingly dependent on a steady, uninterrupted flow of electricity. Both the public and private sectors recognize that the grid is increasingly vulnerable to a variety of threats – natural and man-made – and both are looking to alternative energy sources, including microgrids.
Microgrids, on-site generators of electricity, comprise a variety of technologies including photovoltaic, combined heat and power, and wind turbines. While the technologies are diverse, they share several common objectives that are especially important for building owners, including assuring a continuous and reliable source of power to key systems during a power outage and reducing utility bills by shedding load during peak demand times, when the cost of power from the grid is very expensive.