Since most of the world has taken electric lights, air conditioning, ubiquitous power outlets and so on for granted for several generations, it’s easy to forget that more than 1.5 billion people on the planet—about one person in five—still live without electricity.
>Microgrids are also gaining in popularity in advanced countries. For one thing, they are viewed as a source of standby power in the event of natural disasters, like Japan’s 2011 Fukushima earthquake or the U.S. east coast’s Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The Sendai microgrid, located on the campus of Tohoku Fukushi University in Japan, had been built as a prototype in 2004, but received global attention when it continued to provide electricity to the campus after the 2011 earthquake, even as much of the surrounding area remained powerless.
For institutions like hospitals that must remain open 24/7 no matter what, emergency power has long been available in the form of standby diesel generators that kick on in the event of blackouts. But now, many of these facilities are designing other kinds of backup systems that have lower carbon footprints. For example, the new emergency-power generator at the Markham-Stouffville regional hospital in Toronto will be fueled by natural gas, now in abundant supply. While these are not full-fledged microgrids, they nonetheless take advantage of many of the technology breakthroughs that are allowing larger microgrids in sites like Tanjung Batu Laut.<
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