T&D World Magazine
DC Microgrids Scoping Study: Estimate of Technical and Economic Benefits

DC Microgrids Scoping Study: Estimate of Technical and Economic Benefits

Some manufacturers, power system designers, and researchers are demonstrating and deploying DC power distribution systems for applications where the end-use loads are natively DC.

Microgrid demonstrations and deployments have shown the ability of microgrids to provide higher reliability and higher power quality than utility power systems and improved energy utilization. The vast majority of these microgrids are based on AC power, but some manufacturers, power system designers, and researchers are demonstrating and deploying DC power distribution systems for applications where the end-use loads are natively DC, e.g., computers, solid-state lighting, and building networks. These early DC applications may provide higher efficiency, added flexibility, and reduced capital costs over their AC counterparts.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has released a report titled DC Microgrids Scoping Study: Estimate of Technical and Economic Benefits. Several national labs participated in the study's work, which was funded by the Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability. The study provides a preliminary examination of the benefits and drawbacks of potential DC microgrid applications relative to their AC counterparts, using several metrics for comparison:

  1. Safety and protection
  2. Reliability
  3. Capital cost
  4. Energy efficiency
  5. Operating cost
  6. Engineering costs
  7. Environmental impact
  8. Power quality
  9. Resilience

The report also offers recommendations for potential future research and deployment activities.  The full report is available.

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