Is it Time For Grid 2.0?
Tesla Corporation is right now bringing to the commercial and domestic market home electricity storage systems that are meant to compliment solar panels. In fact Tesla is also revolutionizing the residential solar power industry with solar shingles that look as good ( better?) than conventional shingles.
The lifecycle cost is actually better than going with conventional shingles.
What this means is that the next time you need to replace your homes shingles, you would be better off to go with solar shingles. The price can only get better.
Adding solar power to your home, in a way that allows you to completely disconnect from the grid is a compelling idea right? The reality is that for conventional homes which are far from energy efficient the system needs to be very large and the amount of battery storage needs to also be large. New homes can be built using net zero and passive solar techniques that greatly reduce this requirement.
For existing homes consumers have been installing what is known as a sub panel. This is a panel where critical loads are wired through such as heating and AC, some cooking and refrigeration, television and some electrical outlets. This subpanel is then wired to the solar panels and battery systems. In this way the size of the solar power and energy storage system is minimized.
Solar is getting cheaper, and battery storage seems to be on the same rapid cost reduction curve. Solar and storage combined with the right software and policies will be a key part of the electric grid of the future. But there are technical and business challenges as we transition from the Grid 1.0 infrastructure of power plants and power lines to a more distributed Grid 2.0.
There are more questions than answers right now when it comes to Grid 2.0 ( by the way, who named this?)
- What does Grid 2.0 look like?
- Who pays for it, who owns it, who controls it? ( yes this is 2 questions)
- As batteries get cheaper, what supporting technologies will be required?
- Who will provide the software to coordinate the grid with local solar/storage & customer demand?
- What policy changes will be needed to incentivize utilities, resource providers and customers?
Why do we need a new grid?
Now that we are starting to have all of the components needed to restructure the power grid, namely solar electricity, inverters, distribution and storage, we are close to being ready for change.
What about the load to this new grid? How will this change?
Electric vehicles will change this dramatically. Two electric cars and an electric motorcycle in everyones garage will significantly add to the load of any grid. We are basically replacing the explosive energy of fossil fuels with electricity. This is on purpose of course.
What about the internet of things or Iot for short. If you are not familiar with this, it is the plan to attach pretty much everything to the internet. This will need to be powered.
What about Bitcoin? Yes Bitcoin. In order to mine this cryptocurrency you need computer power and computers need electricity? Moving to a currency that demands electricity will definitely add to the demand. Iceland recently reported that it expects to double it’s power demand next year to support bitcoin mining operations. Good thing Iceland used clean geothermal electric generation. However I fear that this is new electricity load for the grid that we may not have accounted for.
For student of solar power ( isn’t that why you read us?), this excellent lecture produced by the MIT Club of Northern California is education at it’s best. – FUN!