The global distributed generation market size was valued at USD 256.2 billion in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 650.07 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 10.9% during the forecast period (2022–2030).
Distribution generation entails small-scale technologies to generate electricity near end users of power. It is performed by some small grid-connected systems, which are referred to as distributed energy resources. DG is a small scale generation of electricity whose power ranges from 5 kW to 30+ MW.
Distributed generation is based on different technologies that combone the use of renewable and non-renewable energy sources, but majorly renewable sources are used on a large scale. This renewable source includes but not limited to the wind turbine, geothermal energy, photovoltaic cells, micro-hydropower plants, etc. It is specially used in remote and less developed areas where the electricity supply is very less. The applications of distributed generation energy are finding roots in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. It is available in the form of solar photovoltaic panels, natural gas-fired fuel cells, small wind turbines, emergency backup generators, biomass combustion, and combined heat and power systems. Several industries, where regular electricity supply is not continuous, deploy distributed generations as backup power. According to India Energy Portal, distributed generation can be defined as “DG (distributed generation) is an installation and operation of small modular power-generating technologies that can be combined with energy management and storage systems”.
The global market for distributed generation is in the growth stage due to the increasing demand for power and supply not matching; power generation and demand deficit. The ongoing developments across the globe demand more power, which is impossible to fulfill by conventional power generation methods. The burgeoning construction and infrastructure industry from developing countries and rising infrastructure projects from the APAC region necessitates continuous energy supply. It is challenging, especially in remote areas, to have an uninterrupted power supply with the same power capacity or voltage.
In such cases, the distributed generation is the ideal solution as it can be modified in accordance with the project’s needs. It can even be stored if produced in excess. Distributed generation has emerged as the best energy solution for projects which are affected by adverse climatic conditions like bad weather. It is an efficient solution under certain circumstances and for particular types of consumers, especially for those who need it as emergency power, combined heat and power, and continuous power supply. Investments scaling up in the distributed generation market to develop power plants is helping the distributed generation market to reach new heights.
The primary driving force for the global distributed generation market is the initiatives taken by governments across the globe. Governments are encouraging the uses of renewable sources for more power production by offering subsidiaries, tax rebates, etc. This is motivating people to use more distributed generation power as it fulfills their need for power and results in cost-cutting.
Distributed power generation has numerous advantages over centralized power generation systems. Renewable sources like solar and wind energy are used to produce distributed power generation for homes and businesses, which are cost-effective compared to centralized power generation. Distributed generation can store excess energy which otherwise might have wasted.
It also prevents the cost associated with production and reduces energy loss, which takes place during the transmission and distribution of electricity over a long distance. It reduces the need for extensive generation facilities, expensive grid-supplied power, and provides alternative energy sources in the market and delivers environmental benefits over conventional energy production systems. Distributed generation reduces air pollution by decarbonization compared to centralized power generation.
OECD countries have made substantial investments in the distributed generation market to leverage the aforementioned benefits, investing hugely on new renewable and conventional power plants, infrastructure, transmission and distribution, and energy-efficient measures, according to world economic forum.
Distributed generation facilitates easy maintenance and management of power, frequency, and voltage on account of its independence from utility grid systems. Also, the combined energy storage and management system help to mitigate congestion. A distributed generation, once installed, incurs less energy production costs than a centralized system. Also, the cost per unit for conventional power is increasing day-by-day, eventually urging people to shift from using centralized power for their consumption to distributed generation, which is acting as a significant driver for the distributed generation market.
In the residential sector, a distributed generation system predominantly involves solar photovoltaic panels, natural gas-fired fuel cells, small wind turbines, and emergency backup generators. This is because the area required for this system’s operation is less, thereby making it ideal for a residential area. Besides, the inexpensive installation cost and easy-to-handle are the benefits it provides.
The resources of distributed generation mandatory for the commercial and industrial sectors are wind, combined heat, and power systems, hydropower, solar photovoltaic panels, municipal solid waste incineration, biomass combustion or co-firing, fuel cells fired by natural gas or biomass, and reciprocating combustion engines which includes backup generators.
All these systems demand more area and have the capacity to generate more power. Also, the maintenance required for this system is high compared to the systems used in the residential sector. The major adopter of distributed generation is the construction and infrastructure industry.
Fuel cells are similar in nature like a battery that can be refilled. Fuel cells produce electricity by bringing together oxygen and hydrogen in a chemical reaction and continue its operation until the fuel is derived. When pure hydrogen is used for the production of electricity, the only substitute that remains is heat and water; no harmful emission is left. Hence, this makes it less likely to affect the environment. Hydrogen is not present naturally on earth, and therefore, it needs to produce from other sources like natural gas or by electrolyzing water.
It has general advantages over others — reliable and low noise operation. That is because it does not entail any moving parts like combustion engines or wind turbines. The set-up needs comparatively less space than solar or wind systems. It can be used as a substitute against combustion engines in vehicles, as it is pollution-free, the rate of emission is low, and it offers higher efficiency than combustion engines. On the other hand, it can be used as a replacement of the battery in vehicles and stationary applications on account of fast refueling, high energy density than the standard battery, and lightweight.
The global fuel cell market is foreseen to register USD 3 billion in sales by 2020, up from USD 1.3 billion in 2013, according to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.
As environmental concern and pollution are turning into a critical global issue, countries across the globe are shifting their focus toward renewable energy sources to curb the rate of carbon emission. Europe has stringent rules against carbon emission; therefore, it has the most significant growth opportunities in the region for the distributed generation market.
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to hold growth prospects for the distributed generation market during the forecasted period, owing to the increasing demand for energy and the lack of conventional energy supply. Also, the government initiatives toward using more distributed energy sources are driving market growth. The region’s flourishing infrastructure industry is also boosting the distributed generation market growth. The improving urbanization in the APAC region and increasing purchasing power parity is adding to the growth of the market. China is the biggest producer of solar and biogas energy, followed by Japan and India.
The primarily players in the global distributed generation market are
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