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The Difference between Solar and a Microgrid.

Solar Panel Roof

Solar and the Grid 

Most of the solar panels in the U.S. function through a grid connection. The grid goes down and so do they.

Why don’t more people know this? The problem is partially due to semantics. Many people do not yet understand the difference between solar and a solar microgrid. They tend to use the words interchangeably, describing the panels on their homes, businesses or community buildings as microgrids when in fact they do not have microgrid capabilities.

Microgrid Defined 

A microgrid is a self-contained electrical network that allows you to generate your own electricity on-site and use it when you need it most. Some resorts and communities have their own microgrids, and microgrids have been able to supply power when the standard electrical grid fails due to natural disasters or brown-outs. A microgrid is thus a type of distributed energy resource. You can operate microgrids while connected to the utility grid or in disconnected “island” mode.

Being Off Grid 

Envision a storm where trees and branches are knocking down power lines. The electricity goes out in one neighborhood, then the next, then the next. Interconnected to the grid, the solar panels stop working too.

Most advanced microgrids are grid-connected too. But when their software senses the disruption coming, they can disconnect and rely on their own solar and other distributed energy resources.  So even when those around them are in the dark, microgrid customers have power. 

Nanogrid Defined 

 Think of a microgrid, but: 

  • Smaller, which means quicker and easier to deploy and more affordable 

  • Localized, so customer centric and able to be tied to other nanogrids, microgrids and the utility macrogrid

  • Able to be aggregated, which can create a coordinated response to support other grids in times of emergencies

What Resort Energy Does

We research, access funds and plan to seamlessly incorporate renewable energy, energy storage, and dispatchable generation into your property.  

 

The microgrid functions in parallel with the utility to provide energy savings. It also gives you the ability to enter island mode during grid outages to provide complete reliability and resiliency.

We provide your resort and possibly your community with ready-to-go energy access for the independence, resilience, and sustainability you need.

Project Assessment 

 The first step is to conduct a feasibility assessment. This will help uncover a system’s potential benefits, challenges and life cycle, with a unique site in mind. Financial, resiliency and sustainability opportunities will all vary from place to place.

It can be easy to overlook details at the beginning of the process, but missed details often result in increased costs and project delays.

System Eligibility

The next step (although it often happens in conjunction with the feasibility assessment) is to complete a 30% system design. This involves laying out the basic types and sizes of technologies involved, their intended locations, the methods for interconnecting them within a microgrid and a plan for working with the local utility. The goal here is to help set the course for future detailed design considerations

Financial Planning 

Before beginning the full design process, it is also crucial to conduct financial planning and develop a cost estimate for the project. These are critical to a system’s feasibility and can illuminate opportunities for third-party financing. It is important to lay out all budgeting guidelines, so as to accommodate such assistance and equipment purchasing.

Project Management

Being vendor agnostic allows our team to bid projects and access competitive market pricing. We then screen contractors, negotiate contracts and oversee your projects from concept to completion. We also offer ongoing reporting and asset management.

Solar Water Heater

Full Design 

Once these steps have been taken and the logistics of the system have been determined, it is time to carry out the full design, moving forward from 30% to complete blueprints and documentation, including a utility interconnection agreement. 

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