How Community Microgrids Have the Power to Change Civilization

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Jayant Kumar, global digital grids program director at GE Grid Solutions, discusses how community microgrids can change civilization, and why every city planner should keep them top of mind. Elisa Wood, chief editor of Microgrid Knowledge, interviewed Kumar at Microgrid 2017 in Boston.

In terms of who the industry needs to be educating on the value of microgrids — and community microgrids specifically — think about the gatekeepers to development.

That’s according to GE’s Kumar, who says that microgrids and energy efficiency are leading us toward “developing a new human civilization.”

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“What I really mean by that, is how do we build our homes? How do we build our communities? And guess what? Who are the people doing it? It’s the city, developers, real estate entities,” said Kumar. “And so those are the ones we should be educating so that we can redefine how we are going to live.”

If the industry needs to help these stakeholders better understand microgrids — it first needs to know how to define the technology.

Kumar says from GE’s perspective, a microgrid is a “platform.”

“And it actually goes even beyond energy, since it’s a platform for economic development; it’s a platform for integrating the different energy resources and assets that people are deploying today, but aren’t able to harness the value because they aren’t putting it in a platform,” Kumar said.

The platform, or microgrid, brings different energy assets together and applies intelligence, or software, to optimize value.

But the business angle is about more than just integrating energy resources. Kumar pointed out the microgrid platform also integrates “grid operation, market operation and customer operation.”

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And that’s the message that needs to be conveyed to the city planners, city councils, developers and more.

“I would say the microgrid should be an integral part of city planning departments. As they go through the permitting of development, they should really look at the energy aspect of it, as well,” Kumar concluded.

Jayant Kumar is global digital grids program director at GE Grid Solutions.