IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 70

Albert Munoz

WIKIMEDIA/U.S. AIR FORCE - PUBLIC DOMAIN

The United States Armed Forces
utilized the hub and spoke
model to deliver aid in Honduras
after a 1998 hurricane.
The microgrid coupled with the
hub will exhibit antifragility in
its ability to continue to operate
and serve as a distribution
channel for disaster relief.

Microgrids for
Disaster
Management
An Ethical Risk Perspective

M

icrogrids are interconnected
distributed energy generation
and storage systems that can
act as either an extension of
the existing grid or operate
independently of the grid, in
so-called "island mode" [1].
As a power supply technology, microgrids are attractive
as they can be more reliable than existing infrastructure and reduce societies' reliance on nonrenewable
energy sources [1]. As a valid alternative to reliance on
centralized electricity generation and grid distribution,
microgrids have value that materializes when disasters
render grids inoperable and microgrids remain as
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MTS.2019.2948443
Date of current version: 2 December 2019

70

0278-0097/19©2019IEEE

islands of service. It is these specific disaster conditions that reveal the latent value of microgrids as disaster management tools, whereas under nondisaster conditions, their value remains hidden. Microgrids can thus
be leveraged to manage disaster relief efforts while remaining connected to donor sources and the broader
humanitarian relief supply chain.
Although microgrids are expected to increase in popularity [1], economic justifications for microgrid uptake
may be missing some key elements that capture latent
utility in the event of disasters. Such benefits, apparent
only in extreme situations, are difficult to quantify as
are many latent socio-technical benefits that extend far
beyond cost-benefit analyses. One of the commonly
reported benefits of microgrids is their ability to remain
operational when the broader grid is inoperable, by
exploiting the designed flexibility [2]. The flexibility of

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DECEMBER 2019



IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019

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