The potential, and the need for, microgrids cannot be overstated.
This can be seen as a follow-post to one written earlier this year in January, 2019. In that post, based on a sfchronicle.com article, it was mentioned that utility PG&E was planning a future power outage to help prevent another catastrophic fire from devastating Northern California.
Well, as of this post, approximately 800,000 customers of PG&E had their power cutoff for multiple days. It’s an understatement to say that this has been an inconvenience for people. To think that the utility may have to do this again in the future is seen as unacceptable by many, of course.
What’s the solution to this problem?
That’s right, microgrids! It’s time that we wrest the power back from the country’s massive monopolistic utility corporations!
How feasible is a future full of microgrids? Very. This will truly be a win-win situation for all, even for corporate interests. Things will be much more equitable at the same time. Let’s list some of the primary advantages of a more decentralized power setup…
- Cost Effectiveness: Microgrids will be less expensive through the use of onsite electricity generation. The lack of miles of power lines and grid maintenance will save millions of dollars.
- Safety and Security: A decentralized grid will obviously prevent situations like the current emergency that is still affecting many thousands of people in Northern California. People will have energy security by not having to rely on a centralized utility.
- Democratization: More and more homeowners will decide to become their own power companies. Rooftop solar paired with home energy storage systems will offer the ability for people to be largely self-sufficient.
- A Climate Solution: These microgrids will primarily be solar powered, further supporting our need for a massive reduction in our carbon footprint.
- Resilience: Many catastrophic problems are avoided by simply not having all of our energy “eggs in one basket.” Whether it’s cyber attacks or Mother Nature attacking, these and other risks will be spread out and not affecting all at once.
All of these great benefits are due to the inherent nature of solar power.
But solar couldn’t possibly provide for all of our electricity needs, right?
Again, to address the solar nay-sayers, a recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (a part of the U.S. Department of Energy) report shows that the current rooftops in the state of California can actually provide for 71 percent of the state’s electricity needs. That figure just takes into account currently built rooftops. The bottom line is that there’s plenty of space for the solar that we need.
The missing key to this puzzle, energy storage, is about to come online in a big way. The ability for lithium ion and other battery technologies to provide energy while the sun isn’t shining is being proven right now. There’s already utility scale Tesla battery systems being put to use. The raw materials needed to massively scale up battery production are available. Pricing is about to be aligned as well.
It will take time. This will require, without a doubt, a massive undertaking. However, this microgrid future is extremely likely. The advantages are difficult to ignore. The ability to save money and provide for a more resilient energy future will guarantee their development.
We are about to take our first steps toward our Microgrid Future!