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Global Microgrid Center

"This Center establishes the means and aspirations of the new energy future with localized power. It is like teaching people how to fish—but with clean, sustainable electricity."
-Terry Mohn, Project Advisor.

The Problem

 

There are over 1.3 billion people living in energy poverty today, or without electricity altogether (World Energy Outlook 2011). While we typically think of these people as living in developing countries, some of those least able to afford energy resources are right here in the United States.


Often cited as the greatest invention of the last century, the electric grid powers 75 percent of the global population, leaving 25 percent behind with no access to electricity (U.N. Development Programme, 2009). As energy prices rise and traditional energy resources become constrained, more people are being left in the darkness of energy poverty.


We now have the opportunity to leverage new and exciting technology innovations for these populations, providing them with power and sustainable solutions for the future.
The Global Microgrid Center will connect those sustainable innovations into usable power systems, providing communities with access to the global economy.

The Global Microgrid Center will connect sustainable innovations into usable power systems.

The Solution

 

The Global Microgrid Center will connect existing and new technologies into workable solutions for communities that lack grid access – from rural and remote areas, to impoverished communities, and even military installations, for example.
 

The Global Microgrid Center will serve as a real-world laboratory for developing, demonstrating, and deploying next-generation integrated infrastructure, beginning with electricity, and later expanding to include telecommunications, water, gas, electric vehicles, and other essential services.



More specifically, it will include:
A microgrid laboratory – testing innovations and technologies to ensure they are functional and compatible, and then certifying those systems.


A workforce training program – enabling communities to educate their labor force to maintain microgrid systems.


A technology deployment network – giving market access and connections for developers and entrepreneurs.

What is a Microgrid?

 

A microgrid is a small, self-contained electric power system that can connect and disconnect from the main grid or function independent of a grid altogether. Many experts believe microgrids are the future of the electric power system.
 

The Global Microgrid Center will play an internationally prominent role in identifying gaps in research and development and closing those to increase the economic benefits of a microgrid. Preliminary efforts have identified several large technical, structural, and market needs.

Existing Support


The Global Microgrid Center has been endorsed by the New Mexico Federal Congressional delegation and the Energy Task Force of the Regional Planning Authority (a joint Santa Fe County/City entity). The governing bodies of both the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County have passed resolutions in support of the Global Microgrid Center’s activities and microgrid deployments in the region.

Benefits of the Global Microgrid Center


Testing, certifying and transferring technology;


Training the workforce of the future;


Creating local jobs;


Connecting poverty-stricken, remote, or other non-grid

connected communities to real and sustainable solutions;


Spurring entrepreneurship opportunities in technology and
communications fields; and


Creating best practices and standardized systems, rather than
ad hoc solutions, for next generation energy technologies and applications.

Partners and Planning Team

 

The Global Microgrid Center is currently a collaborative project of the Santa Fe Innovation Park and Santa Fe Community College. The Park will provide energy-related human factors research, while the College will develop microgrid workforce training and professional development. Other industry, research, and public sector collaborators will join the effort as the project develops. The Center will operate as a public- private partnership.


Global Microgrid Center’s Project Director, Terry Mohn, founder of General MicroGrids, Inc., is an internationally recognized smart grid and microgrid expert, who served as chief technology strategist for Sempra’s San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas, is an advisor to the U.S. Departments of Energy and Commerce, and chairs the MicroGrid working group of the U.N. Foundation’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Project Advisor Jesse Berst is Managing Director of Global Smart Energy, Inc., a strategic consulting firm; and Chief Analyst at SmartGridNews.com, the internet’s largest and highest-ranked smart grid site.