What Is a Solar Microgrid & Why They’re Great in California



What Is a Solar Microgrid & Why They’re Great in California

Not all locations are made equal when it comes to harnessing the power of solar energy. 

California is one of the states that has a particularly favorable atmosphere for utilizing solar energy. California, known as the Golden State, has abundant, year-round sunshine. Year after year, the state maintains its position as the national leader in solar energy.

In addition to the natural climate conducive to solar energy, government initiatives encourage residents to go solar by offering exclusive incentives and rebates. Switching to solar energy is thus a sensible investment for residents.

Though Californians are aware of solar power, some may be unfamiliar with what a microgrid is.

“Microgrid” is a newer buzzword in the solar industry, heralded as a new renewable energy solution. This guide details this technology, how it works, and why more communities in California should consider adopting it.

What Is a Solar Microgrid?

Solar microgrids are designed to independently provide power to buildings, businesses, residential communities, or other grouped areas. They are integrated networks that use energy generated from the sun. The system captures this energy, stores it, and distributes clean electricity to buildings or communities. 

This procedure is comparable to that of large-scale electrical systems, but on a smaller scale.

These systems incorporate high-quality solar panels and batteries. They are placed on a “hub” or central location alongside the operation technology. Upon installation, electrical wirings are connected from the hub to power nearby homes, farms, or businesses. 

What Makes Solar Microgrids Different?

To better understand what a solar microgrid is and its unique advantages, you must understand the other types of solar powered-systems. There are three main types of solar panel systems

  1. Grid-tied
  2. Off-grid
  3. Hybrid

The most commonly incorporated in American homes are grid-tied systems. These systems are reliant on an existing electrical power grid. They use net metering, a process of using extra power for storage or bill credits. Some homeowners choose to install battery back-ups with their grid-tied systems, turning them into a hybrid solar energy system.

Off-grid systems are designed to stand alone, without any connection to a utility grid. Self-contained systems use specialized inverters and battery systems to store energy. Most homeowners are unaware that their grid-tied solar systems cannot supply power during outages, as it needs a voltage source to power their homes. This is where solar microgrids showcase their advantage and reliability. 

Although solar microgrids generally operate while connected to the main grid, they can work independently when necessary. Called “islanding,” they isolate themselves from the grid when issues while continuing to provide power. This makes them a reliable hybrid energy source, even when natural disaster threats, such as wildfires in California, are common. 

The Future: Solar Microgrid Communities

The future of renewable energy is tied to this growing industry segment, representing a shift from centralized power sources to more localized energy distribution. 

The ability of solar microgrids to isolate themselves from the main grid makes them resilient—a more competitive option in the market. Aside from being a green energy source, they are also a reliable power source for remote communities and disaster-prone areas. 

In California, communities opt for microgrids to improve disaster resilience and meet environmental goals. A great example is the Borrego Springs Microgrid was installed in Borrego Springs, a remote town with 2,500 residents. The area is prone to extreme heat, fires, and monsoonal rains. 

The microgrid is a robust infrastructure that keeps critical facilities energized even during challenging weather conditions. 

Explore the Benefits of Solar Microgrids With Current Home

California encourages the development of microgrids to make solar-powered systems more accessible and reliable. If you think this system may be the right choice for you and yours, we can provide further information about your available options. 

To learn more, reach out to Current Home today.