Monitoring and controls are significant aspects of microgrid development. The Advanced Power and Energy Program, a center of research located at the University of California Irvine, hosts a yearly Microgrid Global Summit to examine issues and learn about real-world, on-the-ground microgrid deployments that are pushing the envelope of energy reliability, quality, and accessibility. Mike Firenze, President and CEO of CleanSpark—a clean, affordable power infrastructure company—was among the many speakers at the 2015 Summit. Firenze compared a microgrid, “distributed assets that can work autonomously and that can also come together,” to the human brain, and invited listeners to consider microgrids arranged in fractal pattern, “self-similar units stacked together,” the way nature creates many of its forms. Smaller units linked together “to create larger units can scale to infinite levels.” Within the very complex systems are much simpler components. The goal of a fractal formed grid, with the individual microgrids able to island, is energy security in each discrete location as well as for the larger picture as more real-time resource sharing capability comes online. James Lee, of Schneider Electric, also spoke. He emphasized that the key to interaction and interconnection with the local utility is to bring utilities on board early in the microgrid planning process.
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