We continue to develop resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. See COVID-19 initiatives on Appropedia for more information.


From Appropedia
< Portal:Energy
Revision as of 20:12, 18 August 2011 by Winsol3 (talk | Contributions) (Added Community Microgrids)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Aleiha's parabolic solar cooker

In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems. Since work is defined as a force acting through a distance (a length of space), energy is always equivalent to the ability to exert pulls or pushes against the basic forces of nature, along a path of a certain length.

Sustainable energy is the provision of energy that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable energy sources are most often regarded as including all renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectricity, solar energy and power, wind power, wave power, geothermal energy and power, biomass fuel and energy, and tidal power. It usually also includes technologies that improve energy efficiency.

While many renewable energy projects are large-scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas, where energy is often crucial in human development. As of 2011, small solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provide electricity to a few million households, and micro-hydro configured into mini-grids serves many more. Over 44 million households use biogas made in household-scale digesters for lighting and/or cooking, and more than 166 million households rely on a new generation of more-efficient biomass cookstoves.

This page or section includes content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Energy. The list of authors can be seen in the history for that page. As with Appropedia, the text of Wikipedia is available under the CC-BY-SA.

This page or section includes content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Sustainable energy. The list of authors can be seen in the history for that page. As with Appropedia, the text of Wikipedia is available under the CC-BY-SA.

This page or section includes content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Renewable energy. The list of authors can be seen in the history for that page. As with Appropedia, the text of Wikipedia is available under the CC-BY-SA.

Community Energy Microgrids

Community Microgrids are for people, not utility companies. It’s about tapping into, distributing, and using 100% locally produced renewable energy with local labor and materials. Here’s an illustration of a utility connected smart grid. Community microgrids can do the same without the utility connection.

Community Microgrid To get started, let’s define microgrids. Here are some existing definitions: “ Microgrids are modern, small-scale versions of the centralized electricity system. They achieve specific local goals, such as reliability, carbon emission reduction, diversification of energy sources, and cost reduction, established by the community being served. Like the bulk power grid, smart microgrids generate, distribute, and regulate the flow of electricity to consumers, but do so locally. Smart microgrids are an ideal way to integrate renewable resources on the community level and allow for customer participation in the electricity enterprise.

[1] Motorola’s CEO Definition.


A microgrid is a localized grouping of electricity generation, energy storage, and loads that normally operates connected to a traditional centralized grid (macrogrid). This single point of common coupling with the macrogrid can be disconnected. The microgrid can then function autonomously.[8]

Wikipedia’s definition

OR Microgrids offer a compelling alternative to traditional energy generation and distribution, utilizing smart grid technologies to enable integrated control of distributed power generation assets either in parallel to or “islanded” from the utility power grid. Pike Research These are legacy definitions. Like putting new technology over old cow paths. Our electrical and energy infrastructure was designed (mostly by accident) and put in place over 100 years ago. It is outdated at its core. The only problem is it’s assets are valued at over $3trillion and lots (I mean LOTS) of people make LOTS of money off these assets. This model of a monopolistic, oligarchy style utility/government/industry no longer work within our post-industrial society, networked and highly empowered society. We need new energy infrastructure. Like a home gardener who has discovered permaculture and all its wonders by nudging nature to work, we need a permaculture-based energy system. We need a community-based independent energy microgrid based on 100% renewables. Call it ‘energy permaculture’.

'we can… Live well without the mainstream energy grid'

The mainstream microgrid industry is a large booming BIG business, dominated by energy giants. Yet, the USA has 74% of the global microgrid market. Why? most of these microgrids are in the industrial/commercial and Institutional/campus sectors and use diesel or natural gas-powered co-generation system for a majority of their electrical energy. This is a result of access to cheap natural gas and a desire to control their own energy pricing and reliability. Mainstream microgrids are so NOT. There is a good microgrid industry that is emerging: smaller, local-based microgrids. So let’s get started on reviewing these new smaller microgrids. First, a few basic terminologies.

Mainstream Microgrid Acronyms + Terminology: • AC, DC = Alternating Current, Direct Current • CERTS = Consortium for Electrical Reliability • CHP = Combined Heat and Power • CMG = Community microgrids* • Co/Tri-gen = Cogeneration/Trigen (Heat/Cool + Electricity) • DER = Distributed Energy Resources • DPS = Distributed Power Systems • DUPS = Distributed Uninterruptable Power Supply • IEEE = Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers • PQR = Power Quality + Reliability • PV = Photovoltaics • RE = Renewable Energy • T+D = Transmission and Distribution • UEC = Uniform Electrical Code • UPS = Uninterruptable Power Supply • VSI = Voltage Source Inverters *It is a plural word (microgrids), because a community’s microgrid system consists of multiple, diverse microgrids all interconnected and with adjacent communities’ microgrids (not the main grid). A successful microgrid cannot stand alone.

Clarifications + CMG Approach Most microgrid discussions are about electricity only. A few add natural gas for heating (but mostly from co-gen), and very few talk about multiple, integrated energy sources. They talk about tying into the main grid and working with the utilities and governmental regulators. This is NOT the case for small, island type microgrids, which are built as stand-alone systems. For mainstream microgrids it’s usually from the ‘top-down’. All the discussions on CMGs will be from the ground up: from a local community’s individual citizenry platform and up. Some people call this an organic or grass roots approach. Top-down microgrids won’t work Working from the ‘top-down’ is a non-starter. We’ve tried it for over 35 years, and what has it gotten us? I dare predict another ‘energy’ related disaster will occur within the next 12months. Whether it’s a soft or hard accident is immaterial. We are holding onto a thin thread that has hundred pound gorillas doing wire acts.

There are inherent inefficiencies in our grid system for which we are all paying and helping continue an outdated, monopolistic energy system. Bottom line: we are only getting 20-30% of the electrical energy out of our plugs, but paying for 100% of its generation! We will NOT be discussing this ‘top-down’ microgrid approach. There are many organizations pursuing this microgrid approach.

Instead, we need to work from a grass-roots level.  We need to work from the bottom up.  This is where CMG is positioned.

Defintion of CMGs (Community MicroGrids) CMGs are stand-alone, small* interconnected energy grid based on 100% renewable supplies; that are transmitted and distributed only to local community residences and businesses.

• CMGs are connected to similar CMGs within adjacent communities. They are flexible, integrated and diverse. • CMGs are not tied to large utility or regional grids. They are stand-alone. • CMGs provide 6-sigma reliability and have safety + reliability as their primary objective. • CMGs are developed, owned and maintained 100% by local citizenry. • CMGs monitor and heal themselves. * The use of the word ‘small’ in this definition is just that.

Mainstream microgrids are massive: 100’s of megawatts. This is an inappropriate application of the word ‘micro’. The scale of CMGs should be on the order of 100′s of kilowatts not megawatts. With smart meters, smart controllers, and the upcoming energy internet; these CMG’s are easily interconnected to provide diverse, reliabile and steady supply of locally produced 100% renewable energy. These energies can range from local biomass gasification (woodlands), geothermal (ground loops), solar thermal, solar PV, wind, small hydro, etc. These CMGs can heal themselves by continually monitoring their own status and adjusting to variable loads, demands and potential faults. Yes, it is possible NOW. The technology and innovations are there, we just need to DO IT!

It doesn’t get any greener or more sustainable than this.

Call to Action Let’s create a community independent energy microgrid within YOUR community Let’s start with one house, one block. First one, then two, then many more. Look around you. There’s plenty of energy available right now. Current solar income (C2C principle) , gravity, geothermal, wind, biomass, etc. All energy sources are available to be used appropriately with smart, hi-tech controls + equalizers, etc.; enabling a community to use and distribute it’s own local renewable resources to provide it’s citizenry 100% of its energy needs. It won’t be easy. It’s a tall order. You can start today. Start by measuring your daily watts.

Where to start: Watts per person per day We use 11,500+ watts/person/day (on average). A big part of the success for CMGs will be to reduce this energy demand profile. We need to get down around 3-5,000 w/p/d to make CMGs work.