The Washington Socialist <> April 2017
By Daniel Adkins
A micro grid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously.
There are two basic micro grids today. The most common one in the Washington, DC area is based on sharing heat in the ground. These are generally not geothermal sources from geologically hot rocks, but the warm heat near the earth’s surface. They work by piping cold water into the ground in the winter to be warmed and used. In the summer, warm water can be piped into the ground to be cooled. One structure or a group of buildings can use the piping system. This can be called a micro grid and it aids energy efficiency.
Much of the world focuses on micro grids in terms of sharing electricity in a system that has the potential to be independent of the utilities. From the viewpoint of the Energy House, a Northern Virginia educational outfit, this is not a mature technology. One of its potentially main components is commercial-scale batteries, which are only beginning to come on the market. These systems may have power generation (PV solar or other energy sources) and storage systems that have the potential to be independent from utilities. The advantage would be to be independent of utility failures and maybe of fossil fuels. The University of Texas is claimed to have a major micro grid and so do many energy coops. The entire city of Fort Collins, Colo. is its own micro grid and it is near the size of Arlington County. The potential for the DC area may be to have school systems, agency campuses, and commercial clusters use micro grids. As fossil fuels diminish there will be a possibility of a more locally distributive energy supply and demand. This may be a way to circumvent utilities like Dominion that are slow to see the future.
The above is a partial summary from the Energy House meeting in Alexandria. This organization is a group of energy enthusiasts and contractors focused on energy efficiency and renewables.
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