Saturday, June 27, 2009

Microgrid Houses, energy independance and giving back to the grid

In this summer's July / August issue of Fast Company Anya Kamenetz wrote an article an Why the Microgrid Could Be the Answer to Our Energy Crisis .

It identifies how the microgrid which is small scale consumer, commercial developer and municipality driven is at odds with the large scale smart grid, renewable energy industrialization efforts of large regional or national energy players. What's fascinating and powerful is how both together large and small can help provide needed renewable energy sources to all scales of users. And, the economic oppourtunity for redefining our troubled economy through the conversion to greener energy sources can only or the other but both together which is powerful. It's not Smart Grid vs. Microgrid but both, 1 + 1 = 5 etc. With multiple ways to deliver renewable energy in a more complex interdependant system we are all better off.

As she says "The microgrid is all about consumer control -- aligning monetary incentives, with the help of information technology, to make renewables and efficiency pay off for the average homeowner, commercial developer, or even a town. The name of the game is to scale up renewables big enough, fast enough, to bring the cost down to parity with conventional resources. "

Here in Vermont, one of our local energy companies, Green Mountain Power they have a 10,000 panels in 1,000 days program in their Choose to go solar campaign. They are committed to transforming the energy landscape in Vermont business, homeowners and municipalities and exemplify microgrid efforts on a more local scale. I believe we're in the midst of a viral consumer driven renewable energy revolution. Smart companies which realize this are stepping in like Green Mountain Power to help make it easy for consumers to green up their energy usage and create more energy independance on a local scale. It's the Wiki distributed and nimble consumer driven approach to change rather than old style large scale 1,000 acre wind or solar farm.

One thing however, the Microgrid house from the article which I include here falls short as an example but is worth including to get the conversation going. I agree the house can be a small power plant generating electricity but what's missing in the example are additional flyouts identifying smart choices for low use water fixtures, recycled materials in construction and finishes. Having a garage in the front helps make the case for the electric plug-in visually but speaks to broken conventional development patterns and attitudes. This is an incomplete picture at best.
Anyway, that's all with this post. I think I'd better offer some ideas about the ideal microgrid house in future posts. But please read the linked articles and information. And, any feedback or comments are welcome.

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