A solution to power disruptions in the developing world is on its way.
Echelon Corporation (NASDAQ:ELON) has recently announced it will create two new micro grids and place them in India and South Africa. The micro grids, which will integrate distributed generation to recompense for disturbances in the native utility-supplied power, will be the first of their kind in the two countries.
These micro grids, which incorporate advanced application software from partner companies Grene Robotics and Power Meter Technics, involve managing demand and energy supply mix for a sizable residential community called Palm Meadows in Hyderabad, India and the 240-store strong Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg, South Africa. Micro grids are emerging as a viable option in the developing world coping with an unreliable power source in a cost-effective manner.
The way the micro grid works in the Palm Meadows area is that it’s directly connected into the utility grid. If any irregularities are sensed by Echelon’s Networked Energy Systems (NES) system software, the Grene Robotics-developed application technology automatically switches on the local generation. This generation is currently being run on diesel generators, but will be outfitted with solar generators in the future. What makes Echelon’s micro grid unique is how the software is able to create a comprehensive bill to customers outlining use of grid power and the more expensive locally generated power. If the customers want less of the local energy when it’s turned on, they have the option of reducing their usage. The Clearwater Mall micro grid is operated in a similar fashion except Echelon used PMT’s Metering online technology instead of the Grene Robotics technology.
“Smart micro grids are an ideal way to integrate local generation at the community level and allow for customer participation in the electricity enterprise,” senior vice president of Worldwide Markets for Echelon Michael Anderson said in a statement. He explained the two new micro grids are excellent examples of how Echelon is helping a global transformation of the electricity grid into an energy control network and how they’re helping foster market innovation as a consequence.
Pike Research backs up Anderson’s claim. According to a report issued by Pike, interest is growing for micro grids among educational, commercial, government, health care, industrial and research campuses. Pike estimates the total installed generation capacity for campus micro grids will increase by a whopping 164% between 2011 and 2017. This is a rise from 620 megawatts to 1.6 gigawatts. Revenue in micro grids is expected to increase as well, reaching $777 million annually by 2017.