From 0 to 5-star Microgrids

Every building, office or home is a microgrid.

The question is, how good a microgrid do you want it to be?

Here is a simple 5-star rating for microgrids, an approach for anyone to understand;

You get one star for adding each of the following technologies:

1. Control

2. Generation

3. Electric Vehicle charging

4. Energy Storage

5. Microgrid Islanding functionality

Star Microgrid

A normal 0-star microgrid is a conventional building or home, with no automation or else.

It happens you upgraded your home and installed a smart thermostat for electric heating/cooling? Sigue leyendo

Research article: Asessing Islanding Microgrids

The article we recently published, presents a method to assess the most appropriate microgrid configuration, depending on the costs of grid energy, renewable prices, storage, islanding conditions, etc:

Article Microgrids

Our definition of microgrid includes any network on household or building when including control, generation, storage or islanding capabilities. These microgrids must ask themselves what configuration is their best option, from full utility dependence to off-grid… The thing is: You ARE a microgrid, so what kind of microgrid is best for you to be?

Timer Plug off-grid TICTAC

Image from newkemall on freeimages.com

Actually, to turn every household and every residential, industrial or commercial building into a microgrid, with a Home – Building Energy Management system, with renewable generation (and storage) is the way of implementing the Smart Grid bottom-up and also Democratizing power generation.

It also pushes the system towards net-zero energy buildings which is the way forward pointed out by the EC, for example.

You also wonder what the Grid Independence Cycle is?

Read the article and take a look at Spain, where the menace for a toll on self-consumption and the fact that fixed costs are higher than variable costs may lead the system into the circle, with increasing partial or complete islanding (even with an additional toll, who knows) from the network.

Building the Smart Grid bottom-up

I strongly support the democratization of energy, understood as the access to energy for all and the open participation of the people in the energy market, for example by generating energy for self-consumption or through energy cooperatives. (I already posted on this subject here)

I see energy independence is of less importance. Having energy inter-dependencies with other countries may be positive. As an example, electric grid interconnections, even if they meant energy dependence, are built for increased efficiency and optimized use of generation assets. Increasing the interconnection of France and Spain, would increase competition and efficiency, although it could lead to greater inter-dependence. How about islands interconnections? That makes them dependent on the mainland, but energy less costly, more reliable and allowing greater renewable penetration.

Democratization gives an additional momentum to any change, with this I mean, once some technology market is democratized, accessible to all, and each individual can invest in it, the speed of it’s implementation and development is exponential. An example that anyone can understand is the development of apps for mobile devices.

In the energy industry, the democratization of power generation is mainly due to solar power. Germany has built more than 30 GW of solar power plants, thanks to individuals and cooperatives, not concentrated by traditional big utilities and concentrated power plants, now more decentralized.

Ulm church bottom up (tallest church in the world, built by the citizens of Ulm), by Szeder László (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ulm church bottom up (tallest church in the world, built by the citizens of Ulm), by Szeder László (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

On this subject I wrote an article for Energética s.XXI on their international publication July-August. Individuals not only can have important effects on the grid, they have also have the responsibility to act with sustainability and energy efficiency.

Smart grids have brought the prosumer, as part of a more democratized system where the consumer can also be a producer of energy and participate in the energy market. Building rehabilitation, making homes prosumer microgrids increases the efficiency, the reliability, the sustainability, the security of supply and is also has a very good return on investment. (An example I also wrote about is the V2H business case, part of these home microgrids)

A widespread implementation of smart homes as microgrids would build a smart grid, from the bottom up, from where the energy is consumed, but with effects on the whole grid and energy landscape.