In today’s rapidly changing power utility industry, communities are seeking out efficient renewable energy sources for their homes and businesses. Many are turning to community based power systems, which connect private power lines to renewable energy generators to provide electricity for the area. Special technology is needed to use these systems, but communities are quickly adapting and installing their own mini power grids, particularly in rural areas. Here are some of the electronics currently being used throughout the world that are compatible with these innovative energy systems.
Mini Grid Systems
Mini grids are decentralized units that provide renewable energy to small, remote communities throughout the world. These systems generate and distribute power right at the point of consumption, meaning that it never has to travel far to reach the people who need it. These systems are therefore particularly attractive for countries in which many communities have limited access to the traditional electricity grid due to poverty or their remote locations. Most mini grids are powered by a combination of sunlight and batteries, which can store energy for later use.
Benefits of Mini Grid Systems
Thanks to mini grids, communities are able to expand their economies. Businesses that require electricity to function can easily connect to a reliable, affordable power source. In most cases, businesses are connected to this grid before homes. However, mini grid technology can be used in residential settings, providing the entire community with additional resources that can make their daily lives easier.
Mini grids can also be used to help support more technologically advanced communities, such as large, U.S. cities. Localized grids such as these are able to continue operation when the public grid experiences an outage. Grids can be used to power just the homes and businesses closest to it, or they can create an alternate network to provide faster response and recovery to the larger unit. Cities that use mini grids increase public safety, particularly during extreme weather events, and can prevent economic losses that may occur due to power outages.
The Impact of Mini Grid Systems
Mini grids are becoming widely used, particularly in rural areas that would not have had access to electricity otherwise. In Bangladesh, an electric hybrid mini grid is revolutionizing the way rural populations live. These grids use a combination of renewable energy, energy storage, and conventional diesel methods to locally produce electricity. While these systems still use diesel for a portion of their power, they represent an enormous step forward for rural communities and provide them with reliable, affordable energy.
Many of these communities cannot afford to be without electricity. A pause in power could impact public safety, business’ income, and even access to clean drinking water if an electric filtration system has been put in place. Hybrid systems ensure that there is always access to electricity without leaning on storage techniques, such as batteries, which can often make the systems and electricity they produce prohibitively expensive. Once communities have access to affordable and reliable energy, they may be able to expand their businesses, schools, hospitals, and other facilities to improve the quality of life and create a safer, more robust community.
Grid Connected Systems
In more urban areas, grid connected renewable energy systems can be used for reliable energy. In these systems, homes and businesses use renewable energy when it is available. When there is insufficient renewable energy to power the building due to the time of day or season, excess electricity that has been fed back into the grid can be used instead. In many states, buildings that generate more energy than they can use receive discounts on their electricity bills, making grid-connected systems a cheaper alternative to traditional forms of electricity.
There are city and state requirements that must be followed while connecting your home or business to the renewable energy grid. Each power provider also has its own equipment and connection requirements. This includes power conditioning, safety, and meter equipment. Check your community’s regulations before beginning to convert your own power system to ensure that the systems will be compatible.
Community based power grids are still a relatively new technology, with plenty of research and development still being conducted to help make them a more popular option. Because of this, news about these systems is constantly arriving. Staying up to date on this information can help you better understand the latest technologies, making it easier to educate your community and become an early adopter of new methods of obtaining electricity. Taking the initiative to be an informed consumer of electricity not only saves you money on your own electricity bills, it saves your community money that can be used towards public projects. Making the switch also helps protect the environment from greenhouse gas emissions, oil and gas drilling, and other damaging side effects of traditional power methods.