The energy resilience revolution…

Top view of a cyclone

The development of blockchain energy microgrids not only empowers consumers it also enables them to stay powered when a storm strikes.

Snowstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods. Every year it seems a new “biggest”, “worst” or “wildest” disaster strikes somewhere, leaving large areas and millions of residents without power for weeks or months.

But with the rapid rise in distributed energy generation, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

The increase in a variety of feasible energy generation methods means smaller, more localized power production is now possible and the ability to use that to power communities in a local grid will radically alter the situation they encounter after a major weather disaster.

As an example, during the 2014 polar vortex, coal piles froze and mechanical equipment in gas and coal turbines stopped functioning. To keep things going, power suppliers brought in diverse technologies, paid consumers to reduce their demand (and therefore the overall electricity required), and drew on wind resources that didn’t have a susceptibility to cold.

By creating a grid with more diverse fuel sourcing, they were no longer reliant on one particular type of technology.

That is exactly what LO3 Energy’s microgrid concept, which is currently demonstrated in microgrids in Brooklyn in the USA and also southern Germany and South Australia, can offer.

Monica Lamb, our Director of Regulated Markets, presented to the U.S. House of Representatives in a sub-committee on Energy to explain that a grid with a wide variety of energy resources is much more reliable – and those distributed resources can be distributed generation, active demand management, energy storage and management systems, smart meters and appliances and microgrids that can function in isolation.

The community energy marketplace we have set up in Brooklyn – which can be replicated in hundreds of more communities around the U.S. and globally – will create a decentralized, peer-to-peer energy network that also coordinates with the broader power grid.

This helps to encourage and enable the installation of distributed energy assets, so making them more available for the community during an emergency as well.

Microgrids are localized groupings of electricity generation, energy storage, and electrical loads. Where they exist, electric loads are typically still connected to a traditional centralized grid – but when the microgrid senses an outage, it disconnects from the central grid and uses its own generation and storage capabilities to serve the local electrical load.

Microgrid generation resources can include wind, solar, natural gas, diesel or other energy sources. A microgrid’s multiple generation sources and ability to isolate itself from the larger network during an outage on the central grid ensures highly reliable power.

The effectiveness of microgrids is further enhanced through energy storage, another growing element of the technology mix. Storage systems not only provide backup power while the microgrid’s generation sources are coming online, they can also be used to regulate the quality of power and protect sensitive systems like hospital equipment that might be vulnerable to power surges during restoration efforts.

In the US, some communities are taking it upon themselves to develop their own grids, for example, a rural community in New Mexico that installed a solar microgrid at a community college and used it to provide energy to the area at a cost equivalent to extending the grid there.

The same concept could work well for places like Alaska and other remote parts of the country, with microgrids improving resilience and reliability of supply at a comparable cost point to extending the grid.

The microgrid redundancy is not restricted to small remote communities, far from it. The huge influx of local power generation in major cities offers an opportunity to isolate individual neighborhoods on robust grids that can stay running when storms hit other areas.

The transformation of electric power generation and the modernization of the grid represents an exciting opportunity for the future and the rapid roll-out of energy technologies like our local microgrids are inevitable.

By enabling energy generation and management to be at the heart of local communities, we can help ensure that in future the reliability, security, and resiliency of the electric grid is no longer compromised.