By Erin Yu Characterized by a distinctive architecture of domes and glass panels, the Aardehuizen is a picturesque community of 23 homes located in Olst, Netherlands that was...
Archive for tag: Microgrids
The electrical grid is the largest tangible network created by humankind. It all started in 1880’s, when energy was produced very close to end users, usually big industrial facilities. After 150 years of development, the world created incredible infrastructure to assure electricity supply almost anywhere. Since then, electrical grids have been expanding and embracing more generation units and end-users while covering extensive areas. That pattern, once obvious and most practical, became outdated. Overloaded electrical grids are difficult to maintain, unstable and, in case of infrastructure damage, extremely time-consuming to restore.
On September 20th, 2017, when Hurricane Maria crashed into Puerto Rico, about 95% of the island lost electricity. This energy crisis demonstrated how non-resilient the current grid is. Extreme weather events crippled the entire island. It could have been significantly mitigated - if not avoided - if Puerto Rico had developed independent microgrids. Downscaling the electrical grid by creating dispersed microgrids would increase reliability and resiliency in the electricity supply.
Over a month after Category 5 Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico causing catastrophic damage, much of the island is still without power. The storm knocked out power to almost all of the commonwealth. Homes, schools, hospitals, and other critical services and infrastructure were left without power. Even now, only a fifth of residents have power.
Microgrids may provide the means to reduce vulnerability—and improve resilience—in the wake of a changing climate and increasing risk of natural disasters.
Cyberattacks, natural disasters, including flooding, snow and ice storms, droughts, in addition to aging infrastructure, and other factors all lead to vulnerability in a system faced with increasing demand. When one part of this complex system fails, as can happen when a storm knocks down a wire or pole, other parts are affected. Enter the microgrid—a local energy distribution system that offers backup generation if the central grid fails.