Today we live in a world where our electricity is produced in billion-dollar power plants and distributed hundreds of miles to the end-user.
The infrastructure supporting this electrical distribution is ancient and costly to upkeep. The grid was built to deliver electricity to individual homes across the country. The recovery act of 2009 enabled the U.S. Government to invest 4.5 billion to modernize the ancient grid. Then Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012 and cost the U.S. economy $52 billion.
This cannot be the way of the future.
This article will hypothesize that it is not and propose what the ‘future powerhouse’ (good band name) will look like…
The future power plant will also be the same place you sleep at night. No, you are not going to move into a billion-dollar power plant, although that would be kind of cool. Your home will become a miniaturized power plant, which is equally as cool. Every home is going to become its own power producing facility with the installation of a few main components.
- Solar Modules – The term Solar Panel is used colloquially for a photovoltaic (PV) module. A PV module is an assembly of photovoltaic cells mounted in a framework for installation. Photo-voltaic cells use sunlight as a source of energy and generate direct current electricity. -Wikipedia
- Battery storage for excessive power generated – devices store electricity locally, for later consumption. At their heart are batteries, typically lithium-ion or lead-acid, and intelligent software. An energy storage technology, they are downstream relatives of battery-based grid energy storage and support the concept of distributed generation. -Wikipedia
The cost of solar systems has been dropping over the past few years making residential solar installations a financial reality for homeowners and coupled with the rebate incentives offered, it makes for a lot of solar-powered homes. If you were to ask Bill Walton, he would say that “Solar is the biggest no brainer in the world.” With more power generated at the home where it is being consumed, we become less dependent on the grid.
When power is generated by home solar but not consumed by the home it is installed on, it is sent back to the grid in the form of credit. The homeowner pulls from those credits when they are consuming but not generating. The power which is creating credits doesn’t go sit with the utility company until you are ready to use it. The extra unused power is redistributed to the next closest consumer or load. This local redistribution is limiting the strain on the electrical grid and reducing the distance electricity needs to travel.
Imagine you could share your electricity generated within a small group of neighbors without the need for a utility provider to dictate terms. That grouping of homes capable of sharing electricity between each other would be deemed a microgrid.
In the future rather than large territories all serviced by one utility, we will see much smaller groups of homes sharing loads between them which operate as Microgrids. Rather than homes being tied into the utility-owned grid, homes located close to each other will “island off” and share power created among each other.
The second component of the ‘independent powerhouse’ (funny enough, this was my nickname in little league) is the battery(s). Rechargeable batteries will be tied into the solar modules to store electricity generated so that it can be used at a later point.
The most impressive part of the future will be the automation and intelligence included in all aspects of our homes. Commonly referred to as “The Smart Home.” Today we see intelligence built into almost every piece of technology used in the home. My lightbulbs communicate with my Google Home for crying out loud. This smart home model is still in its infancy and only becoming more and more popular.
We get a glimpse into what the future will look like by looking at the granularity in which you can track a solar module system on your home today.
The majority of solar installed today includes module-level intelligence. Module-level intelligence means that there is some tech (i.e. microinverter; optimizer) installed on the solar module and able to communicate pertinent information to the outside world via the home’s wireless network or in some cases a cellular card accessing a cellular network. The modules provide insight into the production and performance of each solar module every 15 minutes. This insight keeps maintenance costs down, as well as makes solar more reliable.
Imagine your hot water heater could provide you insight into its useful service life, and let you know when to begin to consider replacing it. Or having a monitoring portal interface that will allow you to adjust the water heat settings. This immediately makes me think of some nefarious thoughts. Flushing the toilet while someone is showering will be a thing of the past when you can easily access a control portal and tweak the water temp 😊.
The ability for a home to produce the power it consumes will have some pretty great ancillary effects as well. We will be able to get rid of those unsightly power lines overhead. We will no longer be subject to large scale rolling blackouts. No more hard to read electricity bills. No more unforeseen, or unjustified rate increases. No more ancient grid to upkeep. More insight and control which will improve the energy economics for every homeowner.
This is the ‘future powerhouse’ as I see it.
If you need assistance purchasing and installing any components of the ‘future powerhouse’ call GenRenew at (732)835-4272 or visit us at www.genrenew.com.
– Clark ‘independent powerhouse’ Pegler
See you in the future.