Microgrids: the future of energy


The International Energy Agency estimates that global energydemand will increase by 20 percent by 2020 and as much as 50 percent by 2035. Such a huge rise in demand for raw materials and energy require both that methods of harnessing the available resources need to be improved and that renewable energy becomes central in the immediate future.

In order to overcome the challenge of the coming years, a focus on research and developing new technologies will be necessary to encourage investment while bringing about a revolution in energy generation and management.

One of the responses to these challenges are microgrids, independent small-scale systems that are integrated into urban or rural environments and autonomously generate and store energy. About 300 micro-grid projects have been developed worldwide, adding up to a total capacity exceeding 1.5 gigawatts.

The Enel Group is active in their development, with its Ollagüe project in Chile aimed at the development of a hybrid power plant that combines PV solar, wind power, Batteries for the Energy Storage System (BESS) and a diesel generator. It will be connected via an energy management system that will create an isolated micro-grid capable of providing 24 hours of continuous energy to the neighbouring Ollagüe village.

The Isernia Project, where Enel is developing its first smart grid in Italy, provides a new approach for distributed generation by connecting and managing a renewable energy generation network and storage systems using ion lithium batteries, as well as by encouraging distributors and customers to play a new role as 'prosumers' who produce and consume energy.