• Rana, A., Watmough, G., Ferguson, A., Thompson, D., and McMullen, P. (2024). Microgrids: The evolution of electrical infrastructure. Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

This report provides an overview of the microgrid industry in North America, synthesizing information from current literature, available standards, and industry experts. It summarizes the current state of the microgrid industry and its standardization landscape, outlines emerging trends that will shape the industry, and identifies the challenges that are impeding microgrid deployment. Additionally, this report provides recommendations for actions that can positively impact the industry, such as the creation of new standards and guidelines and the facilitation of conversations between key industry participants. Finally, this report is intended to be a public resource, and its recommendations are provided as general information on the subject matter covered.

Microgrids have existed in diverse configurations for many years, but they have recently received renewed attention. Thanks to technological advancements and a push for sustainability, microgrids are a promising and flexible alternative to traditional grid infrastructure that can accommodate the growing need for electricity and lead to positive environmental outcomes. Microgrids are inherently flexible tools that can be configured to meet a range of needs. They have the capacity to enhance resilience, serve remote communities, and incorporate sustainable technologies.

However, in many ways, the desire for microgrid development has outpaced the realities faced by interested parties in this industry: utilities, regulators, manufacturers, and others. These parties need significant support, such as the development of appropriate business models, regulatory frameworks, and technical standards, if microgrids are to meet the public’s expectations for the technology. Additionally, microgrids may potentially pose challenges to current electrical industry market models, prompting utilities to consider how these projects might be integrated into their operations in a manner that aims to provide the maximum overall benefit, including from a financial standpoint.

Drawing from a literature review and interviews with a diverse range of key informants, the following recommendations were developed to facilitate and streamline the wider deployment of microgrids:

  1. Develop a guide for the prioritization of emerging technologies in order to fast track standards/conformance requirements;
  2. Develop a Canada-specific microgrid guide that models existing industry sources;
  3. Develop a consolidated guide for the advanced technical aspects of a microgrid for dissemination across key microgrid-interested parties;
  4. Update CSA C22.3 No. 9 to align with other international standards;
  5. Participate in the creation of testing and conformity requirements for existing industry cybersecurity guides related to distributed energy resources (DERs); and
  6. Develop a Canada-specific cybersecurity guide for DERs that models existing industry standards.

The application of these recommendations may drive the industry forward and may encourage a more widespread use of microgrids, aiming to maximize their full potential. Proactive implementation at this critical juncture for the industry could contribute to more effective and efficient deployment of microgrids.