Consumers have long-since been enslaved by the power grid. They depend upon a company or government organization to provide their homes and businesses with power. An issue with the grid can result in hours without energy, and lost productivity and revenue for commercial consumers.
Electricity has ingrained itself in the way we live, so that when we lose that power, we feel stuck. Many homeowners and business owners are looking to distributed generation for answers.
However, distributed generation is much more than reclaiming a sense of independence. It can also be used to support an existing grid or minimize the energy burden of a local area. With less demands put upon it by consumption, power companies can stand to generate less of their own energy, which in turn can reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Distributed generation involves the generation of energy at the point of consumption. In other words, the use of sustainable or renewable sources of energy to compensate, support, or replace energy resources within the energy value chain. These other sources of power include technologies such as solar panels, wind, hydro, or biomass.
Distributed generation can be applied to a single structure, like houses or businesses, or be part of a microgrid serving something like a large college campus or major industrial complex.
A goal of distributed generation is to reduce dependence on centralized power plants and the amount of electricity these plants must generate. This results in a lower environmental impact from centralized energy generation.
Countless studies have been done to assess the level at which these renewable sources of energy have been used. Moreover, it’s their impact on existing energy grids that has the world so interested, particularly the power companies.
Utility companies have been in a panic as solar use sweeps the country year after year. In the next couple of years, experts have projected a potential $2 billion in lost revenue for conventional power plants. This loss would be the result of utility companies being edged out of the marketed by growing DG technologies and increased PV, wind, and CHP usage.
However, as Greentech Media speculates, were utility companies to take advantage of distributed generation technologies and other distributed energy resources, they could start to expand and acquire newer investment opportunities. The key benefit to utility companies rests in the capital costs of substations versus that of distributed energy.
Rather than view distributed generation as the end of centralized energy, the explosive growth of the associated technologies could be the wake-up call power companies need to get onboard with distributed generation to support its use without penalizing consumers or fearing for their profits.
With evolving technology, its use will continue to expand. The desire for green, clean tech is one that fuels the distributed generation trend; and when companies such as GI Energy implement microgrid energy solutions for larger installations such as universities and hospitals, distributed energy generation advocates will have more data at their disposal.
As the projects become larger and alternative energy solutions continue to be integrated, we’ll be able to draw more conclusions about the effects of distributed generation on the grid, economy, and environment.