Microgrids are defined by the U.S. Department of Energy as a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources (DER) with clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single, controllable entity with respect to the grid and can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid-connected or island mode.
As shown in the following image, a microgrid is comprised of one or more distributed generation sites.
Microgrids are not new and are not conventional backup power. Turning energy consumers into energy producers they serve as the centerpiece of a connected and optimized energy system. NY Prize is designed to support new local energy microgrids that will provide power to multiple customers, including residential and commercial customers as well as crucial public services such as hospitals, first responders, and water treatment facilities.
Traditionally, microgrids have served only one user, such as a university or hospital. NY Prize’s community-based focus is to connect multiple users through DERs with more reliable and secure energy sources.
Community microgrids will often build on existing infrastructure and equipment, connecting multiple users in a neighborhood, in the event of a power outage, offering energy independence as well as local power generation and distribution.
These microgrids also allow for the use of clean and efficient distributed energy resources such as storage, wind, solar, and combined heat and power, improving the environmental and economic health of the community.
For more information, read How Microgrids Work.