Microgrid systems powered with distributed generation (DG) technologies offer an alternative to the conventional system of centralized power and on-site thermal heating and cooling. A microgrid is defined here as a system of multiple power sources of potentially different sizes and technologies for serving aggregated electrical and thermal loads, where the power and thermal energy can be produced at or near the locations of the users. The potential benefits of microgrids are greater efficiency, reduced emissions, and lower cost (both social and financial).
The analysis presented here uses the framework of life-cycle analysis (LCA) to determine the magnitude of the total fuel cycle
use and emissions impact of a proposed microgrid system in Detroit, compared with the conventional system of grid-based
electricity and on-site thermal heating and cooling. This analysis is a result of a partnership between NextEnergy and the
University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS). NextEnergy provided a grant to CSS to build an analytical tool
for evaluating the life-cycle performance of its microgrid system.