Microgrid Micromanagement

by Briton Lee

One of the issues with the integration of alternative energy, such as solar and wind power, into the electricity grid is their volatile load swings. Automation and microgrids seek to address this issue of fluctuating energy and make renewables more amenable to integration. Solar and wind power are unpredictable, and fluctuations occur simply when a cloud passes over a solar grid. Another problem is that solar energy is generally produced during the day and not during the night, whereas human electricity use peaks in the evening. Generally, humans have to manually monitor and balance energy production and consumption in order to manage the electrical loads. The entire grid is tightly monitored, and the formulas used to keep the grid in check are thrown off when renewables are included. Renewables are unpredictable because it’s unclear when the energy will come in, since energy is not stored but rather threaded directly into the grid. Continue reading

An Upcoming Method of Energy Storage

by Alex Elder

California is currently in the forefront of clean energy production, not only in the United States, but in the world. Although their rising production of wind and solar energy yields many benefits for the state and its residents, it also produces some unprecedented problems. Specifically, the increase in energy generation results in complications for managing the electric grid which has to maintain the balance of energy supply and demand. The strain on the grid has resulted in a technological movement to improve energy storage systems which would help relieve some of the issues associated with increased energy production. Because energy storage systems are designed to store and then quickly release energy onto the grid, they are able to prevent a potential supply imbalance which can sometimes be caused by the sporadic influx of solar and wind energy. Battery-based storage systems in particular can store energy from the grid when electric rates are low and discharge it for use during the day. This kind of system is especially useful for banking solar energy, which can then be used at night or when power from the grid is more expensive at certain times of the day. Continue reading