It’s September, fall is around the corner, and with it, the second anniversary of devastating Hurricane Sandy. A smarter, more efficient electric grid should be on the minds of all New Jerseyans. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Wired magazine calls America’s power grid the largest machine ever built. Over the past few decades, this grid has been expanded throughout the country to ensure that even remote areas have electricity. Although this is an incredible accomplishment, the grid should also strive to keep pace with the latest technological advances, becoming not just the largest machine ever built, but also a more efficient and resilient one.
Source: Lewis Clarke
New Jersey is a national leader in solar power. With close to 1,300 MW of solar energy currently installed, the state ranks third in the country in solar capacity.
A commitment to photovoltaic (PV) technology has helped New Jersey reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and lower electricity bills. Yet despite its impressive track record in New Jersey, distributed solar PV proved vulnerable when it was most needed – during an historic electricity outage in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. With another hurricane season upon us, it’s a good time to look at ways solar can be utilized when the grid fails.
An unfortunate reality
When Superstorm Sandy hit, residential and commercial PV owners were frustrated upon realizing that their solar panels were rendered useless without a functioning central grid, even when the sun was shining brightly. Read More
Resiliency+ is a new blog series, which highlights the ways in which different clean energy resources and technologies can play an important part in increasing energy resiliency in New Jersey and around the country. Check back every two weeks, or sign up to receive Energy Exchange blog posts via email.
Renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, provides clean and sustainable power to our electricity grid. But it also offers other benefits beyond environmentally-friendly electricity. Renewable energy can increase energy resiliency by keeping the lights on, including at critical facilities in the wake of a natural disaster. That’s why it has the potential to play a particularly pivotal role in New Jersey, which is vulnerable to vicious storms such as Superstorm Sandy.
Renewable energy, unlike other forms of energy, is less vulnerable to sustained disruption. Other, more traditional forms of energy, such as fossil fuels, require an input (coal, oil and gas, etc.) that needs to be shipped, often via pipeline, to create electricity, leaving them vulnerable to a natural disaster that might interrupt transport. On the other hand, renewable energy has the ability to generate stable, on-site power from sources such as solar and wind when it operates from a microgrid. A microgrid can generate power both connected to and independently from the main, centralized grid. They can vary in size, providing power to several city blocks or to an individual home, but microgrids have the unique potential to “island” from the main electricity system. This is important during and/or in the wake of a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy because this autonomous electricity system is able to power local buildings regardless of whether or not the main electric grid is down. Read More
Source: Greenpeace, Tim Aubry
Improving energy resiliency has become critically important throughout the United States – particularly in the Northeast, where devastating events like Superstorm Sandy debilitated our electricity grid. States are searching for ways to create a stronger, smarter, and more flexible energy infrastructure, so that storm damage can be minimized and restoration times shortened. Doing so, however, is no small task. Ensuring that the lights stay on in critical facilities like hospitals, emergency shelters, and water treatment facilities requires innovative thinking, as well as a forward-looking instead of reactive approach to our power sector.
The issue is critical for New Jersey
New Jersey was among the worst hit when Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast eighteen months ago. The state suffered more than $30 billion in damage, most of it along the Jersey shore, while an estimated 2.6 million households across the entire state lost power, many of them for weeks. Five days after Sandy hit, a third of New Jersey’s homes and businesses still did not have electricity. Read More
Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0
Energy storage devices that collect electricity at times of abundance and deliver when demand is greatest are essential to upgrading our outdated power grid to a smarter, more flexible electricity system. New Jersey took a positive step toward implementing more energy storage earlier this year when its Office of Clean Energy released a proposal to allocate $2.5 million for incentives that would encourage more energy storage use. EDF recently took the opportunity to comment on the proposal, highlighting the ways in which energy storage can deliver added resiliency, environmental benefit, and flexibility.
Energy storage could be critical in next storm
Energy storage can help stabilize a power grid, which is particularly important in a place like New Jersey where Superstorm Sandy left a third of homes and businesses in the state without electricity, even five days after the disaster. Large-scale deployments of energy storage can reduce peak or high demand, when the dirtiest power plants are usually turned on, while smaller, community-scale energy storage, when paired with renewable energy like solar power, can keep the lights on when the electric grid at large goes down. Read More