The nitty gritty on islanded grids and microgrids

What is an island grid?

An energy generation/storage site located either geographically too far away from a major electric grid (macrogrid) or where it might cost too much to hook up to one.


These types of grids are commonly called “island” grids because they are most often seen on islands like in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

What is a microgrid?

Microgrids are located in any type of remote (mainland) geographical area or used to power a large facility such as a building, campus, or community during an emergency. Hence, they are also called "isolated" grids.

What are some benefits of island/microgrids?

Utilities, customers, and the environment can all benefit from the use of island/microgrids.

  • Islands are prime real estate for more environmentally friendly energy generators like wind and solar
  • Microgrids help stabilize energy transmission frequency in these regions, reducing brown/blackouts
  • Customer proximity to generation site helps reduce line losses
  • High local demand can be met with lower power output

What challenges do island/microgrids face?

Financial, regulatory, and even geographical obstacles often prevent island/microgrids from being implemented.

  • Grid stability: maintaining grid frequency and voltage is a larger challenge for microgrids and fundamental for grid reliability.
  • Fuel availability: the smaller size or geografic location of these grids limits their access to many fuel sources. Fuel flexibility is key to reduce cost and increase energy security.
  • Renewable integration: integrating renewables into small grids increases the demands for voltage and frequency control.

What advantages do GE Vernova’s gas turbines have in an island/microgrid?

GE Vernova’s aeroderivative gas turbines offer numerous advantages to island/microgrid applications. These are just a few.

  • Faster installation, commissioning, and startup time
  • Excellent frequency and voltage control, resulting in better renewable integration.
  • Lower operation and maintenance costs—~30x less man-hours from a smaller team
  • Fuel flexibility—100% natural gas or 100% distillate
  • Lower emissions**—~40% lower particulates; ~99% lower methane
  • Smaller footprint**—as much as 75% smaller than comparable plants
  • Modular installation: smaller generation modules can be added to the system as it grows.

What is the island mode?

In an island mode configuration, the system must control its own frequency because it does not have access to a larger grid that defines the frequency.

Featured video

Bringing power to an island nation

See how GE Vernova’s TM2500 aeroderivative solution brought power to six different islands in Indonesia.

Crunch the numbers

Methane slip calculator

Did you know that reciprocating gas engines can release unburned methane at a rate that’s almost 150 times that of a gas turbine? This is known as “methane slip”, and it’s something you should know about. Our new calculator can help you determine your plant’s potential greenhouse gas savings and reduction in NOx and particulate matter.

*Trademark of GE Vernova and/or its affiliates
**Compared to reciprocating engine technology

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