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 69percent of total installed capacity. Asia Pacific and Europe are also key emerging regions, with 19 percent and 12percent shares of total capacity, respectively. Among the key market segments analyzed in Pike Research’s tracker, approximately 45percent of total generation capacity is in institutional microgrids, followed by 32percent in community microgrids.

Pike Research’s tracker report, “Microgrid Deployment Tracker 2Q11,” provides the most comprehensive database available for active microgrid projects around the world. It includes details on projects in five key market segments: commercial, community/utility, institutional, military, and remote off-grid microgrids. Deployments are further segmented by world region, and additional information is provided for each project on companies involved, power generator types, and generation capacity. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.