‘Smart Grid’ Would Allow Smaller Renewable Power Generation to be Hooked up to the Grid
Traditionally our electricity grids were designed to move power from large nuclear and fossil fuel power plants to consumers, but renewable energy will see changes to allow smaller power generation from wind and solar to be hooked up to the grid.
This will enable distributed renewable generation and allow households to sell their household renewable energy back to the grid, says Jennie Stephens, who spoke about this topic in Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, this summer.
“It is not just the technology that is changing but also the management of the flow of power. Also our institutions that manage power are changing and there is potential for us all to change our own expectations and assumptions about electricity too,” says Stephens, who is professor of sustainability science at the University of Vermont, USA.
Renewables are more intermittent, with peaks and dips in electricity generation from solar and wind power. So citizens need to start rethinking old assumptions about electricity. Stephens says this is already happening with people who have solar panels on their roofs, as they consider when to use and not to use power. “When households or communities have their own renewable generation they are interested and engaged and people can feel empowered to reconsider their energy use,” Stephens explains. It can also make people more accepting of changes that are happening to the landscape as we shift to renewable power.
Many of us are not used to seeing energy infrastructure on the landscape. But with renewable energy there will be more distributed energy infrastructure on the landscape. There will be upsides, such as “lots of opportunities for improving human health, mitigating climate change and creating clean energy jobs,” adds Stephens.