United Nations establishes microgrid work group


Terry Mohn,
co-chair UN
Microgrid work
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — August 24, 2011 – The United Nations Foundation has established a Microgrids work group as part of its "Sustainable Energy for All" Practitioner Network.

The work group is co-chaired by Terry Mohn, founder of General MicroGrids Inc., and Puneet Rustagi, director strategy at Husk Power Systems.

The UN Foundation has been working closely with the inter-agency group UN-Energy on the development of a UN campaign that will engage governments, the private sector, and civil society toward the goal of reaching universal energy access by 2030. The full campaign will launch in 2012 with the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, as designated by a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly last December.

The Microgrid work group is one of seven work groups that are aimed to provide a platform for practitioners to network, catalyze ideas and share information in a focused manner and collaborate to solve problems in operational areas. (The other groups are for finance and investment, mapping, standards, energy and agriculture, supply chains and entrepreneurship, and energy and health.)

The Microgrid work group is operating in the space between grid extension and decentralized solutions, and will focus on identifying barriers and making recommendations in the following areas:

  • Policy – appropriate regulations, policies and legal frameworks; subsidies; duties; taxes
  • Technical – environmental impact; balancing technologies; system size and efficiency; high performance systems; best practice; training of local operators and users; maintenance, trade-offs with water, gas and fuel supply chain
  • Financing – Offsetting high initial capital costs; private sector vs. community-run; tariff structure, incentives and loan guarantees.

Although microgrids are mostly viewed as extensions of the existing power grid, independent electric power systems exist in complete autonomy of the grid, Mohn comments.

“This is particularly important when integrating low cost clean energy. Independent electric grid systems require a hybrid approach and face many challenges in terms of evolving best practices for operations, developing customer payment mechanisms, the appropriate integration of technologies, and ways to offset the high initial capital costs required for installation and operation,” Mohn says.

A preliminary draft of the group’s work will be presented to the UN Secretary General next month, Mohn notes, adding: “The campaign and the Year present a tremendous opportunity not only to highlight the issues of energy poverty, but to showcase solutions and to draw the international community closer together to focus on a common set of actions needed to achieve the goal of universal access to modern energy services over the next 19 years.”

Participants are being actively recruited to this work effort and practitioners wishing to join should contact Terry Mohn (terry.mohn@generalmicrogrids.com) for more information and to receive the work documents and timeline.