First Vancouver pledged to run on 100% renewables by 2020, then Hawaii stepped into the race with ambitions to be 100% renewable by 2045, and now an unlikely city in the United States, Brooklyn, has released their proposal of creating the first electrically independent community microgrid in the US. We are in awe.
The governor of Brooklyn, Andrew M. Cuomo, is offering a $40 million incentive to secure the design of the microgram and build them throughout the entire state.
But because present solar technologies pose a bit of a problem, the city is looking to implement an innovative alternative. Currently, if something happens to ‘the grid’ and the solar panels stop working, your power is gone as well.
Such was the case in 202 when hurricane Sandy struck the city. Residents who expected to have working panels even through the natural disaster were surprised to find that they quit as well when the rest of the city lost power.
But Brooklyn’s solution is to instead utilize the microgrid. While macro grids are set up to power down in case workers are laboring to get power back ‘up’ (thereby minimizing potential casualties), this technology is different.
Microgrids are a sub-grid within the main grid able to connect (and stay connected) to the area’s main power grid. They can also switch off from the main grid at any time and power itself.
With Brooklyn’s new proposal, citizens in the area of Park Slope and Gowns will be able to use their own solar panels and wind generators to trade electricity amongst themselves if (and when) something disables the grid.
Not only that, this new system would enable them to sell and trade their energy to the existing macrogrid – thereby increasing their own profits and contributing to a greener, more efficient world. Everybody wins, right?
Such is the beginning of a new type of decentralized energy structure where communities will power themselves first, thereby helping to ensure local sustainability and trade.
As you likely already know, locally producing your own electricity substantially reduces energy loss, because electricity diminishes as it is transported over large distances. In fact, Minds was quick to note that an estimated 6% of the electricity generated and transferred from centralized power plants is lost in transmission.
Way to go, Brooklyn!
Interested in learning more about the microgrid? The Cockrell School of Engineering breaks it down in the following video:
Can you see other cities introducing something similar? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.