It’s no secret that vulnerabilities to climate and disaster exist in the current power grid system. A good example is the state of Texas, which experienced a major power crisis back in February as a result of severe winter storms. The extreme weather caused not only widespread outages but also extensive power failure and damage.
This is where energy resilience comes into play. Through innovation and new technology, power grid companies are addressing climate change and related disasters by investing in energy resilience.
But, What Does It Mean To Be Resilient?
Basically, resilience refers to the sustained stability and ability to make a fast recovery in the face of adversity. This, in turn, helps utilities minimize and avoid disruptions during and after extreme weather conditions.
According to experts, making the power distribution system more resilient begins with design changes. For example, splitting up a large network into smaller circuits and reexamining circuit arrangements to enhance repair speed may be advantageous.
However, the most common and efficient way to building a more resilient energy grid for the future is by investing in microgrid technology.
Understanding Microgrid Technology
Microgrids are a unique energy system that operates in conjunction with the grid or independently to provide power to a community. With more intense wildfires, storms, and terrorist actions causing widespread outages, there’s a growing demand to create islandable microgrids. These microgrids are projected to provide more than 1000 businesses, residences, and public institutions with a new layer of defense in the event of climate-related outages.
Microgrids often serve areas that can be isolated from the main power grid during widespread outages, e.g., universities and medical campuses. They’re also found in military bases, as these institutions have to maintain operability when there are power interruptions.
The beauty of microgrid technology is that it can capture waste heat created in the generation process and productively use it. This is because the small-scale power generation needed for a microgrid takes place close to where communities use the power, allowing cogeneration.
Greater deployment of smart grid technology has also been shown to improve energy resilience. For example, if an outage occurs, a short circuit can be detected by an intelligent switch and block power flows to the affected area. They can also communicate with nearby switches to reroute power around the issue, ensuring many users remain energized.
Since intelligent switches function automatically, they can significantly reduce the time required to restore power to a few minutes.
Another way of building a more resilient energy grid is by reducing dependency on the power grid through self-sufficient systems such as generators. However, there’s a lot of debate surrounding the efficiency and reliability of this approach.
How Energy Storage Can Boost Grid Resilience
Renewable energy power-generation systems such as solar and wind present one problem – when the sun sets, or the wind stops blowing, the output ceases. Fortunately, with energy storage solutions, electricity can be stored for later use, especially when demand exceeds supply.