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How Microgrids Can Provide Management Tools to Maximize Renewable Energy

Berkeley Lab

Thought I'd share this recent story I came across about how a group of researchers has developed a method using microgrids to enable more efficient use of energy in networks of smart homes. By using a web of individualized units connected to each each and a common energy sources, this development seeks to address the need for efficient approaches to residential energy management through the control of energy distribution.

wind energy

The research was published in the IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica, and notes the following:

"Providing buildings and homes with a variety of small and grid-connected distributed  is beneficial for several reasons. For one, it reduces  in the process of distributing and transmitting energy from  such as wind and sunlight. Also, wind and sunlight are not constant sources—sun can be blocked by clouds and winds change speed frequently. This means that the energy produced is not always used up completely. One way to address that is to store surplus energy, which can be expensive. Another alternative is connecting smart homes in a proactive way so that supply of electricity is balanced.

In this study, the researchers focused on the scheduling of electrical energy activities of a microgrid made up of smart homes. The overall aim was to reduce the energy supply from the grid by allowing homes to exchange their surplus renewable energy and by optimally planning energy amounts used. Each smart home can both buy/sell energy from/to the grid. Simultaneously, smart homes cooperate and may buy/sell locally harvested renewable energy from/to other smart homes."

Does this sound like a particularly notable breakthrough to you? Have similar efforts been tried already in utilities that you're aware of? Are there any specific shortcomings or challenges of this program you can foresee?

Matt Chester's picture

Thank Matt for the Post!

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