â€œCat Microgrid Technologyâ€ â€“ Solar Power Microgrids are coming to your neighborhood.
Caterpillar â€“ the company known for building some of theÂ biggest, baddest construction hardware on the planetÂ has launched a newÂ product line:Â CAT Microgrid TechnologyÂ powered with Solar Power. Caterpillarâ€™s product lineÂ is focused on mining, telecoms and remote communities, but a push by the likes ofÂ SolarCity,Â The State of New YorkÂ andÂ Community Solar, and youâ€™ll soon see why Microgrids will reshape how your neighborhood gets it electricity.Â
Officially, Caterpillar is aiming toward the mining and telecom community â€“ industriesÂ it knows well as one of their largest suppliers and builders. In particular,Â Remote Mining Locations are known for their diesel generators and expensive energy costs â€“ andÂ Renewable Energy installations have been shown to cost 70% less. Even in these times of cheap oil, a barrel of diesel fuel will costs three to four times the amount of the fuel itself to get it to the site.Â The main selling points are:
- Increased energy efficiencyÂ with no reliance on the grid and optimal total cost of ownership
- Efficient powerÂ that can be produced where and when it is needed without transmission lines and transformer losses
- High performance, scalable systemÂ designed and built using standardised building blocks that are easy and quick to install even in challenging environments.
TheÂ REAL PRIZEÂ is much larger though â€“ this prize is building networks of Microgrids across the current electrical grid. We already have anÂ entire island that lives off of nothing but solar power. Alaska,Â the worldâ€™s leader, has hundreds of microgrids, some that have been running for 50 years. Hawaii â€“ a naturally isolated microgrid â€“ has signed on forÂ 100% Renewable Energy by 2045, and theyâ€™ve started down that path with significantÂ Solar Power + Battery Systems from SolarCity and TeslaEnergy. Found in aÂ white paper located on the Caterpillar Microgrid SiteÂ is a Case Study of a Tropical Island. The reason these remote locations are going with solar power backed microgrids is simple:Â Money. Caterpillar sees a distributed rooftop, island power system paying itself off in under Five Years â€“ without incentives â€“ and using batteries.
After receiving significant damage from Hurricane Sandy, in order to protect strategic state resources from expected future superstorms and rising ocean levels, theÂ State of New York has decided that Microgrids are the future. The State quantified the following benefits:
- Energy benefits, including energy cost savings and reductions in the cost of expanding or maintaining energy generation or distribution capacity
- Reliability benefits, which stem from reductions in exposure to power outages that are considered to be within the control of the local utility
- Power quality benefits, including reductions in the frequency of voltage sags and swells or reductions in the frequency of momentary power interruptions
- Environmental benefits, such as reductions in the emissions of air pollutants
- Public safety, health and security benefits, which include reductions in fatalities, injuries, property losses, or other damages and costs that may be incurred during prolonged power outages. Such outages are generally attributable to major storms or other events beyond the control of the local utility
Yesterday, we reported onÂ SolarCity taking a big step at delivering solar power at nightÂ via a combination of local solar power, battery storage and electrical power grid services. When we combine these types of technical developments on the commercial and island level, with consumer level innovations like theÂ Tesla Powerwall hitting customers now, clues thatÂ Tesla is working on a â€œbi-directionalâ€ home chargingÂ station,Â individual solar modules being put on the internetÂ and theÂ White House pushing Community SolarÂ â€“ we can clearly see that the time of dominance by large, centralized power plants is giving way.