Under today’s grid protocols, virtually all distributed generation, whether renewable or fossil-fueled, must typically shut down during times of power outages, so they do not feed power back to the larger utility grid. This fact exasperates microgrid advocates, who argue that this is precisely when these onsite sources could offer the greatest value to both generation asset owners and society.
Microgrids, which are pockets of distributed energy resources that can be isolated from the utility power grid, represent an attractive option for single-owner campus environments. Campus microgrids, and especially educational institutions, are currently the leading segment of the microgrid market in terms of actual online operating capacity.
"...All of these benefits are stimulating increased demand for microgrids in a range of application scenarios including campus environments, military operations, remote/off-grid settings, community/utility systems, and commercial and industrial markets. According to a new report from Pike Research, microgrid capacity worldwide will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 22 per cent over the next five years, reaching 4.7 gigawatts by 2017. That represents $17.3 billion in annual worldwide revenue by the same year, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts."
Clearly the big Internet players that are building their own data centers are looking for ways to reduce the energy consumption of the data centers and servers. It’s a money-saver. Both Facebook and Google are using outside air for cooling in their newest data centers, and specifically building data centers in regions like Sweden and Finland to be able to do so.