SPIDERS microgridMicrogrids have emerged as a smart option for enhancing the future of energy around the world. Harnessing the power of microgrids for increased energy efficiency, storage capacity, demand management and reliability will be the focus of the Next Generations Microgrid Conference, taking place this week in Hartford, Conn.

Since 2011, microgrid capacity has experienced staggering growth. It’s expected to continue on that upward trajectory, growing by as much as 17 percent between now and 2022, reaching a total installed capacity of more than 15 gigawatts. Many large utility customers, including military installations, hospital campuses and universities, have turned to microgrids to better manage energy use and enhance power quality and system reliability.

The three-day conference kicks off on February 26 with a case study of the UConn Microgrid Project, followed by a tour of the University of Connecticut Center for Clean Energy Engineering and the Fraunhofer Center for Energy Innovation — all of which are helping advance the future of clean and efficient energy.

On February 27 at 10:15 a.m., I’ll be presenting on MicroGrid Effects and Opportunities for Utilities. During this session, I will explore the drivers behind microgrids, the benefits to end-use customers, and the mutual benefits of microgrids to the utility that provides or supports them.

The conference will also feature several panel sessions that examine microgrid use in various settings, case studies from investor-owned utilities, and a keynote speech from Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who will speak on his vision for a cheaper, cleaner, more reliable energy future for Connecticut and what’s been done so far to make his vision a reality.

If this conference is on your agenda this week, hopefully our paths will cross. It’s sure to be an exciting, informative event, one that my team and I look forward to being a part of. I hope to see you in Connecticut.

Eric Putnam is an electrical engineer specializing in the design of aviation and high-tech facilities. He has 18 years of industry experience, including work with Phase I and Phase II projects for the SPIDERS program. He is the lead electrical engineer for projects including a microgrid evaluation for the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and the Arsalon Data Center Generator Expansion. He also was responsible for electrical system design for the Shands Cancer Hospital microgrid development.