An Interview with Peter Asmus, Navigant
I recently shared a blog on my incredible experience talking with clean energy experts and change makers at the VERGE clean energy summit in Waikiki. One of my top priorities at the conference was to meet Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research and president of Pathfinder Communications, whose prolific writings on microgrids, and virtual power plants I have been following on LinkedIn for some time.
Microgrids on the Rise
Our conversation did not disappoint. Peter’s research confirms that microgrid development is expanding all over the world. As of 2Q18, Navigant Research has identified 2,134 projects worldwide, representing 24,981 MW of proposed, under development, and operational power capacity. Some of the exciting projects being piloted in the US are community microgrids on public lands.
Community Microgrids Can Be Complex But Essential
As communities like my home base in Santa Barbara, CA are faced with more frequent climate-driven disasters like wildfire, they are learning how valuable it would be to have better back up power systems. The key benefit of a community microgrid is to protect critical facilities in the event of an extended power outage. Unfortunately, according to Peter, the microgrid industry has yet to agree upon a way to monetize the value of power resilience, and making it somewhat difficult for municipalities to estimate the full value and feasibility of microgrids.
This is part of the reason why communities I consult with through my work at Prosper Sustainably are typically both intrigued by microgrids, but also nervous. Fortunately, for many communities, appropriately sized renewable energy and solar systems tied to a microgrid can produce net positive returns, in addition to greater community resilience.
According to Peter, community microgrids can be complex endeavors, but adds that most microgrids are built incrementally on existing equipment, making the initial investment somewhat more manageable for tribes, local governments, universities, military bases and others.
“The beauty of a microgrid is that you don’t have to start from scratch,” said Asmus. “Step number one is do you have DERs or are you investing in distributed energy resources. Then think about where they should be located if you were to have a microgrid… What if you have a great solar resource, but let’s say it’s a mile away. That might not be the best place to put that solar system if you want to wrap it in your microgrid because its better to have your resources kind of closer together.“
More Insights for Energy and Sustainability Professionals
In my interview with Peter, he shares a wealth of the latest information that can help you decide if a microgrid is right for your community. Check out our entire conversation in the video embedded above.
Thanks so much to Peter for taking the time to share his knowledge with us. I’d love if you’d share your thoughts. Is your community considering a microgrid? Comment below and tell us what you think are some of the key considerations, obstacles and opportunities.
As Prosper Sustainably continues to hit the streets in various communities, our goal is to continue sharing strategies, ideas and insights with those of you working to help hometowns prosper, sustainably. We invite you to join us us on Facebook, Youtube, and Linkedin. If you know colleagues that would appreciate a dose of inspiration, we would appreciate if you would share this with them!
Written by Angie Hacker, Vice President and Senior Consultant, Prosper Sustainably
I’m Angie. I’m a mom and sustainability consultant. I love communities and have been serving them for nearly 20 years, implementing solutions that protect the places that people call home. My family and I are now exploring communities around the world, meeting hometown heroes and thought leaders, and we are convinced. Solutions exist. In data, in technology, in policy, in plans, in projects, and in programs. They are all a part of the tale future generations will tell about how we chose a thriving future. Let’s find them together. Let’s move faster and smarter. Let’s prosper, sustainably.