While largely fossil-fuel based grids have supplied an increasing amount of electricity for our world with commendable power quality and reliability (PQR) for more than a century, various concerns are now bringing the familiar universal centralized paradigm into question. One consequence is research, development, and deployment of microgrids. Cost, PQR, energy efficiency, harvestable local clean and renewable energy, and climate change mitigation are the most commonly observed microgrid drivers, and various stakeholder groups including customers, technology providers, utilities, and governments are key stakeholders in the successful development of microgrid methods, technology, and policy. Microgrids provide an opportunity for increasing the share of distributed generation in delivered electricity, while control is more dispersed and the quality of service is partially locally tailored to end-use requirements. Definitions of microgrids vary, but two basic requirements commonly cited internationally are: 1) a microgrid must contain both sources and sinks under local control, and 2) a microgrid must be able to function both grid connected and as an island.
This International Microgrid Assessment provides an avenue for understanding the Governance of a macrogrid wherein microgrids receive the INcentives needed to capture their benefits, by cataloging international Experience to date. Reading this assessment enables the reader to IMAGINE a future for microgrids, as the name of this report indicates. The assessment suggests policy recommendations for a microgrid demonstration program, with specific recommendations for China. This executive summary outlines the drivers for microgrids emphasizing renewable energy, identifies the barriers to microgrid development and suggests potential solutions, and lists policy recommendations.