This research paper seeks to identify financial and legal barriers to the development of microgrids in the U.S. and provide recommendations for overcoming them.
Microgrids are not a traditional or typical infrastructure investment for utilities, nor has the existing electric power industry been structured to facilitate development of microgrids by non-utilities. Microgrids can run on renewables, natural gas-fueled combustion turbines, or emerging sources such as fuel cells or even small modular nuclear reactors. They can power critical facilities after a weather- or security-related outage to the broader grid, or be the main electricity source for a hospital, university, or neighborhood. Single-user microgrids, such as those that serve an industrial site or military base, have existed for decades. But the current interest includes systems that can better integrate generation resources and load, serve multiple users, and/or meet environmental or emergency response objectives.