Microgrids are the latest development in energy efficiency measures. In the United States, homes and businesses receive their electricity needs from the larger national power grid. This billion-dollar industry has long been the traditional mechanism for delivery energy to Americans, but the havoc caused by major storms like Hurricane Sandy reveals their major weakness: It's all too easy for a building to lose its connection to the electrical grid and subsequently find itself without power. Microgrids are changing that formula, though. The idea is to build several, small energy grids across the country – instead of one big one – that can reliably service local areas and generate power through more renewable sources. The concept would significantly boost the number and practicality of energy efficient homes in America.
The latest such iteration in the microgrid project is a new initiative called Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS). The program will be initially aimed at serving U.S. military bases, in better protecting these installations from power outages. According to Burns & McDonnell, a Kansas City engineering firm, the project has four main goals:
- Protecting infrastructure in event of power loss from "physical disruptions or cyber attacks"
- Reducing petroleum demands and carbon footprints
- Sustaining important operations during power outages
- Utilizing renewable energy sources to meet power needs.
If successful, SPIDERS would have far-reaching implications for all not just the military but all Americans.
In the meantime, Virginia homeowners looking to become more efficient should schedule an appointment with local Virginia home inspectors. A home inspection can help identify potential wasteful energy uses, making a residence more eco-friendly and reducing those costly utility expenses.