5 Dec 2022
Winter is coming but can you keep the lights on?
When you hear the phrase 'Winter is coming'- what immediately comes to mind? Is it George R. R. Martin's 'Game of Thrones' fantasy novels, or do you think about the dark days of winter and how much your energy bill is going to cost? The chances are that this year, it's the latter. And you're not alone.
There are many macro-economic issues impacting our world, however, the big three-the climate crisis, the cost-of-living crisis and rocketing energy prices-are all interconnected. Our over-reliance on fossil fuels is exacerbating the situation. Global surface temperatures are higher than ever and energy prices have soared. Households and businesses are struggling to cope as food prices and inflation rise and power cuts loom.
789 million people around the world are without access to any electricity, and millions more lack a reliable or affordable energy supply. Natural disasters and aging energy infrastructure can lead to outages in areas that have access to electricity, while inadequate energy policies and poor planning means that energy capacity has not kept pace with demand.
Fortunately, there's a micro solution to these macro challenges. A microgrid, powered by renewable energy sources could be deployed locally to help deliver reliable, clean energy. This green, local energy will help to reduce carbon emissions, make energy more affordable and, importantly, allow homes and businesses to keep the lights on.
Power generation today is centralized. Microgrids provide a path to a more distributed approach to power supply using renewable sources. Digitalizing the grid infrastructure and adjusting architectures to accommodate local generation, for example, via microgrids, gives added resilience. A microgrid is a self-contained grid with control capability, allowing it to either disconnect from the main grid and operate independently, or connect to the main grid and sell stored energy to the main grid when demand is high or there are outages.
4G and 5G private wireless connectivity can connect the distributed assets and edge compute with AI/ML can help to maintain efficient operation of distributed energy resources in the grid. It will also underpin new business models like peer-to-peer trading and so make energy more affordable.
Because of the flexibility that comes with microgrids powered by renewable energy, they can be deployed by local communities. This means that remote or rural communities can take charge of their energy supply. A vivid example of this can be seen in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sister Alphonsine Ciza became so frustrated with the daily rolling blackouts in the country that she secured funding for a microgrid, powered entirely by a hydroelectric converter. This microgrid generates electricity to a clinic, a faith-based institution, and two schools and the children can now learn their computers skills by using computers rather than by simply looking at books.
High-speed connectivity and digital services will provide smarter management of the energy supply and demand for homes, businesses and communities nationwide. See how microgrids-using green, local energy-can power the world, one community at a time.
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