Solar power is becoming increasingly affordable and easier to install. Because of this, many areas are using them to create their own Microgrids. This article focuses on how solar panels encourage Microgrid creation and discusses what the future holds for solar energy in the residential arena.
A Brief Overview
Microgrids are a new way to make energy services available to communities and areas that are currently off-grid. The Worldwide figures are staggering when you consider that about one and a half billion people lack any sort of electricity supply and the numbers are understandably much higher in rural areas than in cities, although there are still 21 million people in cities without an electricity supply. Microgrids are considered to be a practical and relatively inexpensive way to supply areas with a reliable power source.
The Role of Microgrids
A Microgrid is localized collective of energy generation and storage which would in normal circumstances be connected to a centralized Macrogrid. Power generation and loads in a Microgrid are able to function autonomously and are generally interconnected at low voltage. This means that a connected Microgrid can be controlled and operated as one entity, and Microgrid generation resources can be obtained from fuel cells, wind power and solar energy. This flexible set up means that the Microgrid can operate separately from a larger network and therefore be able to offer a reliable power source with reduced dependence on long distance transmission lines and significantly cut out the level of transmission losses.
Residential Solar Energy
Solar energy will almost certainly play an increasingly important role in the supply of power to residential areas and solar power is not simply about PV panels that are the rooftops of an ever growing number of properties. Solar energy can be used in a number of ways from powering your hot water supply to solar assisted air conditioning systems, even a full photo-voltaic solar electric system is available as a solution to the energy needs of a modern home. A residential area can theoretically pool their resources using Microgrids rather than just using their own solar energy purely for their sole domestic use. Using this community approach means that you can connect several buildings to a single photovoltaic array meaning that a collective approach rather than a singular approach will make it increasingly cheaper and more affordable for everyone as the size of the installation increases in size and capacity.
Solar panels use natural sunlight in order to generate and produce electricity and this can achieved using any of the three currently available photovoltaic technologies which are thin film, monocrystalline or polycrystalline. A Microgrid will of course require more solar panels than an individual domestic system and engineers working locally can use their expertise to choose an ideal location for a centralized solar plant. The combination if maximizing the potential output and the pooling of resources means that the price of energy per watt should be lower than a standard domestic tariff and in addition to lower costs you should also get a higher output when compared directly to a group of individual off-grid systems.
Solar technology is becoming of increasing importance in the race to obtain a reliable source of clean energy and using a Microgrid will also enable you to get the most out your investment in alternative energy.
Yogesh Mankani is a solar power enthusiast that enjoys keeping up with the developments of this technology. His articles mainly appear on environmental and energy saving blogs. Visit SaveOnEnergy to learn more. Photo by Kate Ausburn