Communities are taking back control of their own power generation, storage and consumption. The benefits of on-site generation, storage and transmission are clear and the trend is travelling fast across the globe.
From under-developed countries such as India who have been developing mini grids for almost two decades now [Mini-grids – Lessons From India] to more developed countries like the US and the UK where communities are being encouraged to develop energy communities, State Energy Strategy Recommends Grid Modernisation and Microgrids for New Hampshire and Smart Cornwall – Towards A Local Smart Energy Ecosystem].
Whether these energy communities are generating on-grid or off-grid, there are certainly many business opportunities for those in the energy sector. Energy storage is obviously critical for these grids as communities opt for renewable energy sources which need to be saved during peak generation for peak consumption (and low generation) periods. Smart grid technologies are also needed to maximise the potential of a two-way information and energy flow within a microgrid.
As the trend grows, energy communities will require more innovative solutions and services to run more effectively. While the opportunities are open to anyone, utilities should step in now to avoid a potentially brilliant business opportunity being turned into a threat instead.
Pecan Street Inc., a not-for-profit smart grid research organization located at The University of Texas at Austin, will assist with preparations for the Smart City USA project for the Illinois Village of Oak Park, Chicago. The project will see up to 200 homes and residential building linked in a community microgrid that will test and demonstrate smart grid technologies, including solar power and energy storage.
In response to this need, JuiceBox Energy, a Silicon Valley-based company, has launched an 8.6kWh lithium-ion solar energy storage system for residential and commercial use. The JuiceBox system is a maintenance free power delivery device designed for extended service life and is capable of both grid-tied and off grid operation, and allows a consumer to maximize their daily solar energy self-consumption.
The new 2.5MW, 5MWh lithium-ion iron-phosphate battery system – enough to power 2,500 homes – was purchased from China’s BYD. The system, claimed to be one of the largest, most environmentally-friendly, battery-based energy storage systems in the US, is the latest addition to UC San Diego’s diverse portfolio of energy storage devices.
As the economy grows and Filipinos demand more reliable sources of energy, distributed renewable energy sources will become more attractive.
Companies such as Urban Green Energy (UGE) and Manila-based procurement and management company Orion Group are responding to this opportunity and have joined forces to accelerate solar energy production in the Philippines
To properly assess the value of distributed energy resources, such as energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation like rooftop solar, and energy storage, utility regulators need a new framework for a benefit-cost analysis. This is according to a report by Synapse Energy Economics, submitted to New York's Public Service Commission (PSC) as part of its "Reforming the Energy Vision" (REV) regulatory proceeding.