Nanogrids are big business

Because of their simplicity, the technology requirements of nanogrids are less complex, in most cases, than those for either microgrids or the smart grid, according to Navigant Research. Nanogrids face less technical and regulatory barriers than their microgrid counterparts, and can be synergistic with the growing movement toward enhancing resiliency and, therefore, complement microgrids in some cases. In other cases, microgrids and nanogrids will be competing for the same customers.

A nanogrid is just a small microgrid, typically serving a single building or a single load. Nanogrids, however, have the ability to become big business, filling increasingly important niches within the larger power sector, serving as modular building blocks for energy services that support applications ranging from emergency power for commercial buildings to the provision of basic electricity services for people living in extreme poverty, according to Navigant.

“Though smaller in size than microgrids, nanogrids represent a larger market opportunity because they are, generally speaking, less challenging to the status quo and less subject to the technological challenges facing larger distribution networks that assimilate diverse distributed energy resources,” said Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “While North America is the leading region for microgrids, the largest and fastest growing nanogrid markets today are remote systems operating in the developing countries of Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa.”

Perhaps the most innovative and radical interpretation of nanogrids, according to the report, are grid-tied systems that incorporate electric vehicles (EV), in order to provide emergency energy services directly to buildings or allow building owners to reduce utility peak demand charges. Just as EVs can provide ancillary services to both the larger utility grid and microgrids, they have perhaps an even greater potential to serve as storage or electrical supply to individual buildings.

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