MICROGRID KNOWLEDGE - Energy project developers are just beginning to see the advantages of bypassing the old and “messy” electricity infrastructure in favor of clean, smart microgrids in developing countries.

That was one of Haresh Patel’s observations about the information gleaned from developers for its latest Mercatus Global Advanced Energy Insights Report.

“Our report comes out twice a year,” said Patel, CEO of Mercatus. “This reflects the fourth quarter and latter half of 2015 and the first part of 2016. This was the first time microgrids are being loaded into investment opportunities. It’s a new trend.”

The company creates its report to provide energy producers with insight into conditions and trends that are emerging in the advanced energy power generation market. The report is based on information about energy projects in various stages of development managed in the Mercatus Energy Investment Management (EIM) platform in 2015.

“Our data from our customers — major power producers that use our platform to evaluate all projects — allows us to predict three years in advance their future business,” Patel said.

Developers in emerging markets want to bundle assets in a mini grid, he said. “They say ‘Let’s take a small town and give them their own grid.’ They don’t have distribution lines. That’s where we see early signs of investing in microgrids. They are seeing populations in the developing world bypass what we have and leapfrog the electricity infrastructure.”

That’s what many developing countries have done with phones, leapfrogging over landlines and straight to cell phones, he added.

“Developers in emerging markets are seeing opportunities to put in clean, smart microgrids and bypass the messy system we have created so far,” he added. Much of the focus is on solar, he added.

He said it’s unclear how big this trend will become.

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