Sunday, 23 June 2013

Do-it-yourself energy: community grids

... "this is exactly the direction that the energy production is already taking."

One of the biggest problems with alternative energy sources such as solar arrays or wind turbines revolves around the idea that it must be done on a large scale. Most alternative energy systems have attempted to follow the model originally laid out by the traditional energy giants which relies on a single isolated power plant that then spreads out the power view under or above ground cables. While this paradigm possible for the traditional coal burning power plant, the inherent inefficiencies in solar arrays and electricity delivery methods make this model unusable for more earth-friendly alternative power sources. 

Instead, I propose to aim for single household or community sized power grids made of alternative energy sources. These smaller systems would deal with many of the inefficiencies that plague larger solar or wind farms. In addition, it would put the burden of looking after energy production on the household or community which uses the array. This would change energy from being a purely government run enterprise and put it into the hands of the people. Also, while this would not end our use of traditional electricity methods, it would decrease our use sufficiently which in turn would decrease the amount of pollution created by these plants. Most importantly, this idea can be used to bring power worldwide. Instead of having to spend millions or billions of dollars laying the infrastructure for single point energy creation, you can go from community to community and make the self-sustaining.
Marblar - Household/Community sized alternative energy electric grids

Electric Avenue: When the people have the power
27 June 2013 by Caroline Williams
Magazine issue 2922

Community grids could make central power stations a thing of the past <i>(Image: Toby Leigh)</i> Just how do we go about making our power grids smart and flexible enough to handle people generating their own electricity from renewable sources?

By the middle of the century, today's pre-schoolers will have their own tales to tell the kids: perhaps of a bleak time when electricity was piped to our homes from dirty great power stations, few people made their own electricity let alone stored it, and nobody had even thought of using the car to power the washing machine.

The Scottish Government is taking this very seriously:
It was clear that the community energy scene is vibrant in Scotland (with interest growing in England and Wales as well) and that, while grid connection is a major challenge, there is a high level of interest in smarter grid integration approaches and an appetite for innovative solutions to grid integration.
Smarter Grid Solutions Blog : Growth in community energy spurred on by smart grid technology

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