Implosion videos of old power plants are all over the internet. The backstory is that old and less efficient plants are making way for new, clean electric generation. Largely this is wind, solar, and hydro power in wind farms, solar fields, and along rivers and reservoirs.
One new location for making energy might surprise you – your home.
Solar panels on rooftops are not new. Been around for a while. Though as it is said in TV commercials, “But wait, there’s more!”
New ways to make power at home are being researched. It may be a big trend and research is needed. It is not just a matter of making power and using it at home or putting it on the grid.
Electric systems have to be balanced, matching up the power needed and the power that can be delivered. Going “off the grid” is not a choice for most people, really, because even homes that make a good effort to be 100% self sufficient need the back-up.
So, for instance, if there is a sunny day and a lot of solar power is made at a home, the power may not all be needed at that time at home or on the grid. Energy storage is an important, and not yet fully developed facet, of the energy system. Storage is important so energy availability can be shifted to the time it is needed most.
One of the complicating issues of home energy production and use is that utilities make it all look so easy. Plug in appliances and they work. What can be so difficult? Utilities are victims of their own success.
Home energy must be viewed as a system. Control master panels, circuit breakers, batteries, power producers, and communication systems to the utility. Two-way communications are needed to make a home integrate into the grid.
This Energy Consumer Weekend gathers a few stories we found interesting, and educational, about the way our homes will be our energy havens.
The Power Plant of the Future Is Right in Your Home, from WIRED magazine (left) echoes a mantra of ECC: Consumers have to be active in their energy management.
This article is at the house and neighborhood level with a neat Colorado case study. “Basalt Vista is designed to be an all-electric community that produces as much power as it uses. Each home comes outfitted with an electric vehicle charger in the garage, a large battery pack in the basement, and a roof covered with solar panels. The homes are linked together as a microgrid, a self-contained electricity distribution network that can operate independently of the regional electric grid.”
Homes Gain Momentum as ‘Grid Flexibility’ Resources. Explains that home is where the energy integration is. “Call them nanogrids, smart homes, or something else, households are increasingly shaping up as a means to leverage grid flexibility, and energy companies are stepping forward with a range of products to advance the market.”
Generating Off-Grid Power: The 4 Best Ways. This article is much more about getting off the grid, but it does do a nice job to introduce different kinds of energy generation – solar, wind, micro-hydro, and one activity that needs more attention- conservation.
ECC’s advice to consumers is to start reading now about ways to make and save energy at home. It is a trend that will need a serious look from utilities, and they are changing their views of what a customer is and how they serve customers.
Feature image credit: Duke Energy Illumination