Could micro-grids help stop power outages caused by storms?
Peter Kelly-Detwiler attended a conference in Connecticut that discussed how the use of micro-grids could help limit power outages during storms in the Northeast.
The Weather Channel this morning reports on a “remarkable” storm “of potentially historic proportions,” as Sandy barrels north and the low out west prepares to join the party. It may be another ‘perfect storm,’ But we just had two historic storms last year in the northeast, with damage exceeding a billion dollars.
Such storms wreak havoc on the electric grid, which is why a workshop I attended in Hartford, CT on “Micro-Grids in New England” seems particularly relevant. Micro-grids are independent controllable and defined systems including electric generating and consuming assets that can be connected to or disconnected from the larger power grid, and they are becoming more popular. When the grid goes down, you can detach and supply power to a smaller subset of users.
Detwiler also pointed out that using micro-grids could limit the amount of money lost due to power outages:
It’s not only Connecticut that needs to look at this issue. A recent study conducted for the US DOE estimated that sustained power interruptions (over 5 minutes) cost the US over $26 billion annually. These issues are not going away, as the grid ages while demand grows. So clearly, there is ample justification for the reliability provided by micro-grids.