Microgrid graphic
Graphic courtesy of Berkeley Lab.

In the old days, delivering power was relatively simple. A coal-fired power plant created electricity. At home, you flicked a switch and the lights came on.

But now, instead of big power plants, people want to add lots of sources of electricity to the system … like a solar panel here, a wind turbine there. Most power grids weren’t designed to handle that.

Enter microgrids. Microgrids are smaller grids that can operate independently. They can collect power from multiple sources, such as from all the rooftop solar panels in a single neighborhood. Then, that electricity can be fed into the main power grid. But microgrids are currently expensive.

Elizondo: “A large part of the cost of microgrids is designing, deploying, and installing them. You need an expert and it takes time.”

That’s Jorge Elizondo, the CTO of Heila Technologies, a company that makes automated microgrids. These systems work like a standard microgrid, but do not require customization or expert installation.

Heila’s automated microgrids could make it possible for more clean energy to be added to the nation’s energy mix.

Elizondo: “In the end, simpler microgrids mean more microgrids, and more microgrids mean more renewables.”

Reporting credit: Daisy Simmons/ChavoBart Digital Media.

AUTHOR
Eileen Mignoni is a video producer and multimedia journalist focusing on stories about science and the environment.

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