Microgrids are an important emerging mechanism for incorporating distributed energy generation, both from renewable as well as fossil fuel power sources, into the larger electrical distribution system. Such microgrids may either be operated in conjunction with, or “islanded” from, the utility power grid and are utilized in a variety of settings including commercial applications, community/utility deployments, institutional power systems, military installations, and off-grid microgrids that provide electricity to remote villages and other sites. According to a new tracker report from Pike Research, more than 160 microgrid projects are currently active around the world, with power generation capacity totaling more than 1.2 gigawatts (GW).

“Up to this point, the majority of microgrids have been pilot projects and/or research-related experiments,” says senior analyst Peter Asmus. “This will not be the case for long, however. The year 2010 signaled a shift as some of the first commercial-scale microgrid projects reached significant milestones. With the expected adoption of the IEEE islanding standards in 2011, the shift from pilot validation projects to fully commercial projects will only accelerate.” Asmus adds that North America remains the leading region for microgrid deployments, representing 69 percent of total installed capacity.