Rooftop, Solar, Storage, Wind Power

Listen Up: Designing a Reliable Electric Grid

Over the past few months we’ve experienced a solar eclipse, several devastating hurricanes, another under-construction nuclear plant shutdown, and a backwards-looking Department of Energy Grid Reliability study.

The performance of our electric grid during the eclipse demonstrates how well a flexible, well-managed grid can handle predictable events. These severe weather events show how vulnerable our electric grid really is, how dependent we as a society have become on electric power, and how valuable some form of backup power is for homeowners. The nuclear plant shutdown clearly shows that nuclear power cannot compete against cheap natural gas.

Weaving these circumstances together, one could come to the conclusion that the electric grid of the future should be more modular (distributed); could effectively rely on a combination of wind and solar and storage; and could take advantage of smaller, high efficiency gas turbines for peak afternoon power demands and night-time power.

Not only would this grid of the future be cleaner and cheaper, but it would also be more resilient to local weather and human-caused disruptions.

Solar contractors and homeowners are not at 30,000 feet debating fundamental energy policy and grid strategy developments. Instead, they are on the ground in need of inexpensive electricity and backup power when the grid fails. If you are interested in practical solutions to these problems (sorry, I have no way of rationalizing the DOE’s Grid Reliability Study), to achieve grid reliability, Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.

About the Energy Show

As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.

The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.

About Your Host

Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.

His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.

Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies.  He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.

This podcast was originally produced by Spice Solar and was presented here with permission.

Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr