bases; and potentially deferring utility
transmission and distribution upgrades.
Once the rationale for the microgrid
has been identified, other factors that
can help shape the implementation process should be considered. Some key
questions to ask include: What are the
financial benefits? What can be expected
in terms of operational improvements?
While these may be the questions that
first come to mind, they are just the tip of
the iceberg of what should be considered
prior to a microgrid feasibility study.
By digging a little deeper in preliminary
discussions, information, which can be
overlooked initially, can provide valuable
insights that start a study off in the right
direction. For example, consider asking:
• What local regulations/policies are
in place that could help or hinder a
• Are there multiple critical facilities in
the immediate area that have a need
for uninterrupted power?
• Would owners of these facilities or the
local community or both support the
implementation of a microgrid?
• Are there large thermal loads within
• Are the facilities being considered
for the microgrid within a well-de-
fined geographic territory, potentially
amenable to being connected through
an existing or new electrical network?
• For resiliency purposes, does the
selected location have experience with
prolonged outages (due to nature or
person-based events)? Is it subject to
highly unreliable service?
• Are there potentially utility or load-serving entities that would support a
Gathering as much pertinent information as possible upfront can help ensure
all factors are considered once an actual
feasibility study is conducted—a crucial
component to a successful study and
GE has studied microgrid integration
feasibility through a variety of U.S. projects that are complete, as well as through
many more in the works. While individual microgrid studies can provide various
insights specific to the unique application examined, there are common factors
that span all feasibility studies that can
and should be taken into account when
considering a microgrid approach.
The first thing to know is that technical and economic feasibility studies
require financial and time commitments.
High-level and back-of-the-envelope
calculations might help, but cannot pro-
vide the breadth of insights that a full-
fledged study can—such as ideal micro-
grid structure and layout, size, costs and
potential challenges. These insights can
lead to significant cost savings during
detailed design and implementation.
During its microgrid work, GE has
encountered various challenges, deter-
mined best practices and learned many
invaluable lessons that can help ensure
those looking to incorporate microgrids
make informed decisions and set them-
selves up for successful implementation.
Developing an economically sustainable
business structure and business model
can be complex. Much like any other
initiative, return-on-investment (ROI) is a
substantial factor in microgrid implementation. ROI doesn’t just have to be a monetary improvement, it could also be in the
form of increased availability and flexibility for the broader grid, or any number of
other benefits. Following are a few lessons
learned that can help ensure positive ROI
for microgrid implementations.
When starting to plan for a microgrid
implementation, utility support is essential. Collaboration can help ensure a reliable electrical system design and provide
mutual benefits. For example, leveraging existing generation and distribution systems could help reduce technical
26 | July 2017