IEEE Electrification Magazine - June 2016 - 37

By Luis Eduardo Zubieta

Are Microgrids
the Future of Energy?
DC microgrids from concept to demonstration to deployment
ICROGRIDS ARE
defined as groups of
energy resources, both
renewable and/or conventional, and loads
located and interconnected in a specific physical area that appear as a single
entity to the alternating-current (ac)
electric grid. The use of distributed
resources to power local loads combined
with the capability to operate independently of the ac grid makes microgrids a
technically feasible option to address the
concerns of sustainability, resilience, and
energy efficiency. Furthermore, microgrids
can operate while completely separated
from the grid, representing a lower-cost
option to provide electrical power to
regions in developing countries where conventional ac grids are not available or are
too unreliable. When connected to the ac
grid, microgrids appear as controlled entities
within the power system that, instead of
being a burden to the ac grid power-management system,
represent a resource capable of supporting the grid. Energy
storage as the element responsible for balancing generation
with load is critical to the success of the microgrid concept,
and it is more important as larger penetration of renewable
resources is present in the microgrid. Accelerated
improvements in performance and cost of energy-storage
technologies during the last five years are making

M

Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MELE.2016.2544238
Date of publication: 31 May 2016

2325-5987/16©2016IEEE

RIUZ
/DAVID MA
OTO.COM
©ISTOCKPH

microgrids an economically viable option for power systems in the very near future (see Figure 1).
Most microgrid projects have been implemented as
ac microgrids, where the resources and loads are interfaced by power converters to an ac micro bus that
matches the characteristics of the conventional ac grid.
In most cases, the microgrid ac bus is connected to the
ac grid through a fast electronic switch. AC microgrids
are a logical result of the extensive experience with large
ac grids, the wide availability of ac loads, and the maturity of the inverter industry in converting direct-current
(dc) power into ac power. However, ac microgrids have
IEEE Elec trific ation Magazine / j une 2 0 1 6

37


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Electrification Magazine - June 2016

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