Searching for cheap electricity has always been a struggle, especially in areas where there are natural disasters. In the past year alone, we’ve seen our fair share of the horrors that can happen when natural disasters strike. There’s no way to prevent these disasters and they tend to leave severe damage.
One main worry during any natural disaster or crisis is the electric grid. Just look at places like Puerto Rico and Florida. Florida’s electricity and power went down in parts of the state during Hurricane Irma, leaving many in a precarious position. As the rest of the world learned about how nursing homes were without power, heartstrings were tugged—and rightly so. Then, there’s Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria. Parts of Puerto Rico are still, at the time of writing this article, without electricity or power. Imagine living that way.
Many realize the need for a sustainable alternative to what many places in America have now to power our houses, neighborhoods, and cities. But is there anything that could potentially be safe from harm during natural disasters or crises?
What is a microgrid?
A microgrid works hand in hand with the electric grid many places already have but it has the ability to break off and work in isolation during an emergency. Should there ever be a blackout, the microgrid is able to continue as it can use local energy that it has stored. This means that if there’s a part of the grid that needs repair or isn’t working properly, the whole grid doesn’t collapse like before.
Many places where electricity is vital at all times, such as hospitals and prisons have a started microgrid projects that utilize solar panels. It considered as a backup charger or power source. If there should ever be a blackout, or if there is ever power down in the whole neighborhood, the hospital will still have electricity and be able to continue. Because hospitals are incredibly important, it is necessary to have a microgrid in case of an emergency.
Currently, most microgrid projects are simply used as backup sources. They are only turned on when there is a crisis or natural disaster or when it offers the only source of power available. However, due to the crisis in Puerto Rico, the country has actually decided to make much more of their main grid run hand in hand with smart microgrids. This way, should another natural disaster occur like a hurricane, they won’t be put in the difficult place and be without power for long like they were with Hurricane Maria.
How much can a microgrid power?
Depending on the size and design, smart microgrids can power a variety of facilities and towns at this point in their technological advancement. For example, a microgrid powers a Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, as well as Fort Collins, Colorado. In Fort Collins, the goal was to create the same amount of energy a given district usually consumes. This way of production is much different from the power grid production many other towns and cities currently have in place.
As you can see, the power of a microgrid can range. From powering facilities to whole parts of a town, the power is vast. As more and more people begin to study microgrids and improve the great power it already has, it’s easy to see the potential these microgrids can have. This cheaper alternative could become a very reliable aspect of how towns—and possibly even bigger cities—will be powered in the future.
The benefits of microgrids
Microgrids have many benefits—and many of these benefits go hand in hand with cheaper ways to produce electricity. Basically, microgrids can be somewhat of a safe haven for those who live in more rural parts of the country. Microgrids can stand away from the main grid, meaning that there will be more in smaller towns farther away from bigger cities.
These microgrids are cost-effective and can bring electricity access to those who have had trouble with grids before. For people who lack power or electricity, from either natural disasters or other reasons, it is also possible to obtain a small microgrid in order to bring power back.
These microgrids also tend to have a farther reach than the regular, centralized grids. Because they can work on their own, in case the main grid is down, these microgrids are incredibly important and beneficial to more rural communities.
At the end of the day, these cheaper—and sometimes greener—ways to produce energy have become highly sought after. Whether it’s a small town, a facility, or even districts of a bigger city, microgrids and their cheap form of electricity are changing the world.
The future of microgrids
Now a worldwide form of powering electricity to those who need it, microgrids still have a way to go.
Around the world, microgrids produce renewable energy but they also tend to rely on diesel generators, which pollute. Therefore, a greener alternative tends to be the main area that people say microgrids and their energy storage capabilities can improve. In the United States, most of the microgrids rely on CHP, natural gases, or similar energy resources.
Microgrids are almost always turned on only when there is a natural disaster or some type of long crisis. This means many microgrids aren’t used daily and, therefore, aren’t necessarily reliable for daily use.
However, with renewed interest in microgrid technology because of the natural disasters 2017 faced, and with new technological advancements, the future of microgrids is only bright.
Striving towards a more green and sustainable future, microgrids have a long way to go, but they’re halfway there! Microgrid technology and renewable energy is already reliable and affordable. When you factor in greener and more sustainable than other forms of grids, microgrids are potentially a new and exciting way of powering neighborhoods or towns.
In fact, many people state that the microgrid market, forming a harmonious relationship with the grid, could potentially become a new form of how places are powered. In this day and age, electricity is becoming easier and easier to control. Finding a way to control this electricity through a complex, yet green method that controls power and energy resources is just around the corner.