Wildfire season in Southern California has become synonymous with rolling blackouts for homes relying on grid power, shinning the spotlight on microgrids as one of the best solutions to providing the state with its energy needs and spurring a significant increase in inquiries about solar + storage.
Solar microgrids work as a localized source of energy generation, which is connected to a more extensive energy network, but can disconnect, or “island off,” from the system.
While numerous benefits come with microgrids, we’ve condensed it down to the top three reasons they rock.
Installing an energy storage solution and microgrid along with PV panels allows a solar system to store energy during peak sunlight hours and ration it for when power companies increase the time of use rates for electricity. Not paying a premium for electricity can save homeowners up to $1000 a year or more.
The development of better and more affordable batteries, coupled with lower-priced solar systems and government subsidies, makes the homeowner’s cost of going solar competitive with paying for energy generated by a coal or nuclear power plant at a centralized location.
Because solar microgrids allow people to work as a decentralized network, producing power close to its point of use, they cut down on the need for long-distance infrastructure. Reducing the need to build new transmission towers, power poles, transformers, and power lines will allow utility companies to improve the infrastructure they already have.
On a macro scale, the cost of utility-scale solar has dropped to around $36 per megawatt-hour, which is cheaper than the MWh cost of building new power plants and equivalent with the cost of running existing ones.
2. AGILE ENERGY SOLUTION TO CALIFORNIA’S BLACKOUTS AND FIRES
Recently PG&E chief executive, Bill Johnson, said it could take a decade for the company to improve its electrical system enough to reduce the number of customer blackouts.
California’s Energy Commission can read the writing on the wall and has invested over $100 million in microgrid projects.
Solar microgrids provide homeowners with enough backup power generated from the sun to continue with their lives as usual in the ever more frequent instances when energy suppliers such as PG&E and SCE need to shut down.
The change would be beneficial for utility companies, too. Currently, in California, such companies are caught between a rock and a hard place. If a high wind is forecasted, companies are incentivized to be overly cautious and shut off power to millions of people so that downed lines won’t cause another wildfire. But leaving paying customers in the dark is not a viable long-term solution. Smaller microgrids can be shut down for communities in high-risk wind areas, without affecting the millions of other customers who might not be at risk.
3. PEAK ENERGY SHAVING
The electricity systems in California are built to meet their peak energy demands. Such occurrences are the exception, not the norm. As the state’s population and energy needs continue to grow, rather than build additional large scale infrastructure, smart microgrids will mitigate peak energy needs, but shifting demands to meet supply.
Spreading out the energy generation and storage over millions of homes will make it, so utility companies have less drastic load curves and are able to serve their customers better.
Companies such as Go Green Solar can help homeowners that have solar maximize their systems by adding an energy storage solution and microgrid or build out entire residential solar systems at a competitive cost.