About this course

Microgrids are the future of energy production and distribution, but very few people understand how to create a successful microgrid. In this course, microgrid expert Dr. Andrew Skumanich provides a practical foundation for understanding microgrids and how to build them. 

The course includes a detailed view of the components that go into a microgrid as well as guidance on how to develop a business model, evaluate financing options, and navigate policy. An extended set of supporting tools for developing a microgrid—such as modeling software and system analyzers—are also discussed in detail. The key information is contextualized using case studies and direct learning from existing microgrid projects. 

Since the microgrid segment is rapidly developing and evolving, the course will also highlight areas of opportunity for entrepreneurs and startup ventures.

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Learning Objectives

  • Identify the key components that comprise a microgrid.
  • Examine the various challenges to implementing microgrids.
  • Learn how to assemble the necessary components to create a functional microgrid.
  • Explore optimization approaches using modeling and other tools.
  • Learn how to develop a microgrid business model.
  • Become familiar with the considerations for both U.S.-based and international microgrid deployment.

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Course outline

10 modules • 51 assignments • 6:14 hours of video lectures

Welcome • 0 assignments
Orientation Materials

This is a self-study on demand course. This course is self-paced, so you don’t need to be logged in at any specific time. You can get started immediately after you enroll and the course materials will remain in your account with minimum guaranteed access for 12 months (1 year) after enrollment.

Module 1 • 3 assignments

This week, we’ll define our terms, explain the increasing need for microgrids, examine the U.S. and global microgrid markets, present drivers like security and disruptions (e.g. weather, terrorist attack, natural disasters), outline the main elements of a microgrid, provide an overview of distributed generation, and imagine how microgrids will function as the energy landscape continues to evolve.

  • Section 1 Intro and Overview (52:28 minutes) Preview
  • Definitions of Micro-grids (.pdf)
  • Homework Assignment - Post Answers to Discussion Board
Module 2 • 2 assignments
The Big Questions

This week will provide the answers to the following questions? How do we classify microgrids? What are the two key things microgrids provide? What is the value proposition? What is holding back the development of microgrids if they are superior to the existing grid? What is a realistic forecast for microgrids? What would it take to exceed the realistic forecast?

  • Section 2 The Big questions: more particulars, value prop (56:54 minutes)
  • Optional: Additional specifics on DC vs AC system (.pdf)
Module 3 • 8 assignments
Case Studies

While microgrids have been studied and discussed extensively in theoretical terms, real-world examples are limited. This week will present case studies covering mixed modes (diesel, solar PV, batteries, etc.) and also different contexts/geographies (United States, international, island, etc.). Particular attention will be paid to the University of California, San Diego microgrid, which generates over 90% of the university's electricity.

  • Module 3 case studies lecture (45:09 minutes)
  • Optional: UCSD Additional reading 1 (.pdf)
  • Optional: UCSD Additional reading 2 (.pdf)
  • Optional: UCSD Additional deep dive by J Dilliot (.pdf)
  • Optional: Borrego Springs additional reading 1 (.pdf)
  • Optional: Borrego Springs additional reading 2 (.pdf)
  • Optional: Hut Hamlet drill down with extended details (.pdf)
  • Optional: Extended reading on Island micro-grids (.pdf)
Module 4 • 8 assignments
Key Components

Each microgrid project is different and incorporates different technologies and components to achieve its goals. This week will cover some of the common pieces of the puzzle, including solar panels, batteries, macro and micro wind turbines, diesel, and controllers.

  • Module 4 components: PV & Batteries (43:15 minutes)
  • Optional: NREL PV system guide (.pdf)
  • Optional: Extra info on PV module selection (.pdf)
  • Optional: PV module listing with specs (.pdf)
  • Optional: More info on practicalities for battery choice (.pdf)
  • Optional: Additional reading for off-grid batteries (.pdf)
  • Optional: Common mistakes for Lead-acid batteries (.pdf)
  • Optional: More on LA vs Li-ion white paper (.pdf)
Module 5 • 6 assignments
Assembling a Practical Microgrid

Microgrids range in size and complexity. This week will cover do-it-yourself options, more complex configurations, and engineering scale considerations.

  • Module 5 Starting to build a micro-grid: considerations (19:21 minutes)
  • Optional: Regulation of microgrids by various orgs w/links (.pdf)
  • Optional: Intro to Inverters (.pdf)
  • Optional: more info on MPPT (.pdf)
  • Optional: managing battery charging with diversion loads (.pdf)
  • Optional: Example of off-grid with wiring diagram/details (.pdf)
Module 6 • 3 assignments
Tools to Facilitate Microgrid Deployment and Modeling for Optimization

This week will describe how to leverage the learning and capabilities already out there. It will present more than 50 tools for global microgrid implementation. Two examples are HOMER, software that provides quantitative modeling of power sources and output, and GifZ, a German web-based microgrid tool that can assist with load assessment, sizing, and financing.

  • Module 6 some initial tools for building (17:58 minutes)
  • Optional: Sizing a diesel generator for small microgrids (.pdf)
  • Optional: Deep dive - comprehensive micro-grid design (.pdf)
Module 7 • 4 assignments
What Microgrid Customers Want: How Can the Industry Best Deliver?

This week will delve into the myriad obstacles microgrids face. In the United States' residential market, all the necessary pieces exist, but the puzzle has not yet been solved. In the Virgin Islands, there is demand but no supply.

  • Module 7 Delivering to the market (34:52 minutes)
  • Optional: Boston micro-grid analysis for the community (.pdf)
  • Optional: Boston micro-grid analysis - white paper 1 (.pdf)
  • Optional: Boston micro-grid analysis - white paper 2 (.pdf)
Module 8 • 5 assignments
Financial and Policy Considerations

This week will explore the best ways to finance microgrid projects and how to drive (and survive) local, state and federal microgrid policy. It will also touch upon near-term developments in global support sources.

  • Module 8 Financing and Policy considerations (51:18 minutes)
  • Optional: enhanced valuation for micro-grids (.pdf)
  • Optional: New regulatory models by Aggarwal & Burgess (.pdf)
  • Optional: utility franchise considerations by McCary (.pdf)
  • Optional: New generation standards by A. DeLaski et.al. (.pdf)
Module 9 • 5 assignments
International Microgrid Deployment

This week will take a broad look at the international microgrid landscape (including India, Africa, and China). It will review different potential business models and look to the telecommunications sector as an example of what is possible. Finally, it will provide an overview of clean energy mini-grid support providers and programs.

  • Module 9 International considerations (21:49 minutes)
  • Optional: Energy Access Practitioners Network Info & Links (.pdf)
  • Optional: Sustainable Energy 4all - info & links (.pdf)
  • Optional: List of possible financing & support sources (.pdf)
  • Optional: Sustainable Energy 4all - How to get started (.pdf)
Module 10 • 3 assignments
The Future of Microgrids

This week will summarize and synthesize the material for the first nine weeks and provide additional resources for researching microgrid development.

  • Module 10: Look to the Future (31:07 minutes)
  • Optional: Rate change policy for NARUC 2016 (.pdf)
  • Optional: EAPN- Energy Access for All by 2030 (.pdf)
Conclusion • 4 assignments
Feedback and Additional Resources

This is our last module but you still have access to the all of course materials for 12 months (1 year), so keep working and you'll be able to complete the course at your own pace. After your year of access expires you can optionally extend access with a HeatSpring Membership. Enjoy the course and keep in touch!

  • 1 Year of Access to Course Materials
  • Feedback: 2-minute Exit Survey
  • Consider Joining as a HeatSpring Member
  • Certificate of Completion: Request a Certificate

Continuing Education Units

Approved for the following CEUs

  • 10 Professional Development Contact Hours


  • Dr. Andrew Skumanich

    Founder, Innov8ai
    View profile

    Dr. Andrew Skumanich is a successful Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of SolarVision Consulting, a boutique technology business development company with a core team of technologists focused on renewables and distributed generation energy production. He is a global expert on microgrids and has participated as part of a team installing more than... Learn more

Frequently asked questions

How does this course work?
You can begin this online course instantly upon enrollment. This 10 module course is delivered entirely online. This course is self-paced and you can set your own schedule to complete the materials. You can begin the lecture videos and other course materials as soon as you enroll. During your year of access the instructor will be in the course answering questions on the discussion board. After successfully completing the course, you will be able to generate a certificate of completion.
How long do I have access to the materials?
Students get unlimited access to the course materials as soon as they enroll and for one year (365 days) after enrollment. Rewatch videos and review assignments as many times as you want. View updates the instructor makes to the course as the industry advances. Return to your course anytime with online access from anywhere in the world. After the one year of access expires, access can be extended by joining as a HeatSpring member. A single membership extends access to course materials for all past enrollments.
Is there a certificate of completion?
Yes, when you complete this course you are eligible for a certificate of completion from HeatSpring. You can download your certificate as soon as you have completed all of the course requirements. Students can easily share their verified certificates on their LinkedIn profiles using our LinkedIn integration.
Can I register multiple people?
Yes please visit our HeatSpring for Teams page to get a group discount.


Based on 16 reviews
students have taken this course

such an interesting course and I love how technical it gets. Granted some things flew right over my head but I learned so many amazing things in this course. The reading materials and PDFs are so helpful. While microgrids can seem farfetched and something to leave for the "bigger players", this course has so much information that I'm sure anyone can learn a few very interesting things. Will be circling back through a lot of these case studies and longer PDFs in my free time for sure!

Rishi Patel
Dony O
Geoff S

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