DC Microgrids and Natural Disasters
90% of Puerto Rico, weeks after storm landing, is still without power – Tesla and Sonnen are in talks with the PR government to assist with batteries and microgrids. Meanwhile, Tesla is already halfway thru the battery installation for the Australian outback (following power blackouts after raging wildfires).
Electrical grids, like Puerto Rico’s and the continental US, are in dire need of upgrading. Resisting damage from natural disasters is a priority, but also to take benefit of new technologies.
With luck and foresight (and budgets), Puerto Rico and other islands can now consider how to move forward. There is no ‘silver lining’ to a disaster like this; only what can be rebuilt. But with rebuilding comes new opportunities for new technology:
Clean Power and Microgrids
Rural areas are well aware of the benefits and opportunities that Clean Power and Microgrids can bring to an area typically without consistent and reliable electrical power. Villages and far flung locations rely on solar, wind, and battery technology to provide something that most of us take for granted – until the lights go out.
The genius of wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and other clean power is sustainability. LEED is all about sustainability, and so is clean power. LED lighting is DC direct, when no AC drivers are involved, and this makes for highly efficient and clean lighting.
For the foreseeable future, AC powered lighting is here to stay – but for the unknown future, DC direct lighting is making inroads; very similar to the progression of clean power, in particular solar.
It used to be that the #1 criticism of solar and clean power was that it would never be able to replace fossil fuels; now, we see the folly in predicting the future, as an MIT study in 2015 proved:
An interdisciplinary MIT study led by the MIT Energy Initiative has led to a 332-page report entitled The Future of Solar Energy. Among its key findings are that today’s solar panels are all that is needed to supply the world with many terawatts of clean solar power by 2050 (a terawatt is equivalent to 1,000,000 megawatts). The other main point the study makes is that it will take political will to finally wean the world off of fossil fuels.
Microgrids can be reliable, and in the case of natural disasters, they can prove to be the difference-maker in getting electricity, and by extension hope, back up and running ASAP.
We can hope that the future predicted by climate change isn’t going to be as rough a ride as we fear – or we can work together to bring a world of clean power, sustainability, and dependability in the darkness of the unknown.