Firstly we need to ask the question, what are microgrids?
They are small & local energy grids that are able to disconnect themselves from the main energy grid, this can be done either in times of emergency or in order to encourage peer to peer exchange of energy.
Peer to peer exchange is becoming more and more popular across all aspects of life, global sharing economy platforms have revolutionised the travel and taxi industry, but could such a system grow so that we do the same with energy produced from solar panels or other forms of renewable energy?
The short answer is yes and in Brooklyn it has already started to happen. TransActive Grids have implemented a number of pilot projects in the suburb of New York to highlight that it is possible for neighbours to buy and sell the excess energy that they have stored from solar panels.
All transactions are processed through the TransActive Grid Exchange which uses blockchain technology to ensure that all payments are sent, received and logged on the distributed ledger. The blockchain technology is provided by ConsenSys and offers participants the peace of mind that there money goes to the right place at the right time.
In big cities not everyone has the potential to be a part of the renewable energy revolution, if you are living in an apartment that is not on the top floor then it would be very difficult for regulatory and planning reasons to fix solar panels to the outside of your apartment. But the people living at the top of the block have the opportunity to make the most of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy. Such systems are expensive and not always the most sightly, but if owners know that any investment that they make could be sold directly to their neighbours via the TransActive Grid then they may be more willing to make the investment.
The social aspect to such a system should also not be forgotten, by creating a system of microgrids you are not only having a positive impact from a carbon reduction perspective, but it means that everyone is contributing to the system and doing their part of make a difference.
If the owners of the penthouse properties could not afford to make the investment then there could be another business model put into place. The property owners in a block could set up a company that purchases and installs the renewable energy systems (with everyone contributing) and the energy that is created is then purchased by each householder, with all funds going back into the company and then redistributed. Householders would effectively be getting their energy for free and with the ever falling cost of renewable energy systems and the ever growing cost of energy this would no doubt be a win-win.
Such a solution combines smart technologies alongside citizen engagement and could make a real difference to the pollution levels in cities over the coming years. Let’s hope that the regulation around this area is eased so that more property owners in cities can embrace such technological advancements and do their bit to make the world a greener place for future generations.