A Glimpse Into Future Microgrid Communities at Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon, organized by the US Department of Energy is showcasing a new generation of homes designed to minimize energy consumption and maximize renewable as well as passive energy potential.  The designs could play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and are likely to save homeowners money in the long run by reducing or eliminating their energy bills.

In 2014, 40% of energy consumption in the United States was consumed by residential and commercial buildings.  Creating more efficient buildings with local energy generation is an enormous opportunity and getting a lot of attention.  This years Decathlon started off with passionate talks from Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Director Richard King, Gaddi Vasquez of Edison International, and Serge Goldenberg of Schneider Electric.

Community microgrid

Many of the designs generate more energy from their solar panels than they are likely to consume.  If several ‘Next Generation’ homes are built in the same neighborhood, the community will likely benefit from a microgrid.

3 Reasons a Community Of Solar Powered Homes Should Consider a Microgrid

  1. 100% Local Renewable Energy – The community will be able to call itself as 100% renewable from local sources.  This is very appealing to a lot of people and likely to significantly increase property values.
  2. Resiliency – The community will be able to disconnect from the main power system during power outages.  This is an increasingly important benefit of microgrids, especially in areas where extreme weather is predicted to become stronger.
  3. Pure Economics – The community will be sheltered from price increases from the grid.  They then have the option of using energy storage to consume their own power, or supplement it with grid energy.  They could also create additional revenue by exporting excess capacity or performing grid services.

The competition challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.


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