International Microgrid Assessment: Governance, INcentives, and Experience (IMAGINE)
Microgrids can provide an avenue for increasing the amount of distributed generation and delivery of electricity, where control is more dispersed and quality of service is locally tailored to end-use requirements, with applications from military bases to campuses to commercial office buildings. Many studies have been done to date on microgrid technology and operations, but few studies exist on the policy barriers present for microgrid demonstration and deployment. In performing this International Microgrid Assessment, we provide an avenue to understand the Governance of a grid environment where microgrids can succeed with the INcentives needed to capture the benefits that microgrids provide, by cataloguing the international Experience to date (IMAGINE). The assessment reviews the key drivers for microgrid development and outlines the main barriers that microgrid demonstrations have faced to date including interconnection issues, financial penalties, and operation constraints. Specific technology and policy pathways for microgrid development to get from the "land of penalties" to the "land of payments" are proposed. The paper provides an overview of policy conditions and microgrid demonstrations in 11 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. It describes in detail the experiences of two well-known microgrid demonstration projects, the Santa Rita "green jail" in Dublin, CA and the Sendai microgrid in Japan, with details on goals, funding, technologies used, operating history, and lessons learned. Finally, the assessment leads to policy recommendations for starting a microgrid demonstration program. The IMAGINE report was prepared for the Chinese Academy of Sciences ahead of their preparations for a 30 microgrid demonstration program. If China can also manage to create incentive policies for microgrids, it will go beyond the establishment of a successful demonstration program and become an international leader in microgrid deployment.