Will your community be going off-grid?
The 2011 earthquake and the subsequent power crisis in Japan was an eye-opener for the Government and utilities in that country about establishing a strong and a resilient power infrastructure. Reliance on large power plants was seen to be a questionable strategy. The Japanese government therefore promoted a shift away from the country's old utility model toward self-reliant, local generation and transmission in a 'National Resilence Program' with a fund for towns to apply to of £24bn.
This decentralisation strategy is fast becoming the norm across the globe especially in rural areas.
In Japan, the town of Higashi Matsushima (pop 40,000) chose to construct micro-grids and de-centralized renewable power generation to create a self-sustaining system capable of producing an average of 25% of its electricity without the need of the region's local power utility. It can store enough energy in batteries to keep the town running for at least three days.
The Resilience Program has spurred the creation of micro-grids and distributed power generation across Japan and that reduces municipalities dependence on large power plants. In a micro-grid, community power needs are met by local generation. The environmental attraction of these is that they can be ‘off the grid’ and largely run on renewable energy. Also micro-grids can have lower energy transmission losses because the electricity is consumed in closer proximity to where it’s generated.
Microgrids collect power mostly from renewables eg solar panels, wind, etc and transmit this into the grid for income generation, storing some in batteries at off peak times. If the grid is linked to smart energy systems, these can use the internet to connect appliances and meters to better direct electric power where and when its needed.
Countries are perhaps moving towards a day when they will not be building large-scale power plants. Instead, they will have distributed power systems, where small power supply systems are in place near the consumption areas.
Maybe something to think of in your area?
See a previous blog - A community powered by its own renewable energy
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