Continuing my previous post series on Transactive Energy, I wanted to make sure there was a chance to clarify a couple of questions. First off, there are two distinct components of renewable energy that have to be considered. The first is the creation of a micro-grid. Micro-grids are simply The application of a simple rule. One power production system combined with a power consumption system. A solar or wind turbine in or around your home creates a micro-grid. You, as the owner of said micro-grid, can, in fact, choose at that point to sever your connection to the larger power grid. You can be independent.
The other option is, of course, moving from Micro-grid to Transactive Energy. You give up the option of being disconnected in the reality of Transactive Energy. The model now is that you produce energy in your Micro-grid. In that energy production, you have options.
- All excess energy (consumption – production = net excess production) can be sold to the power company.
- All excess energy can go to charging the battery system; then if there continues to be extra energy, it is sold to the power company.
The laws aren’t there yet to support the full model; the US states and many countries are thinking about the legal what and how of this.
Solar or wind turbines installed in or around your home help you the consumer crate a micro-grid. Energy production equals that generation system solar or wind. Energy consumer is your home. You have the option of making this a closed system. However, that means two things that people always seem to forget.
- If your system is obscured and you have gone offline, you may not have any power.
- If your system produces 12$% of the dryer you need, you are in a closed system wasting that energy.
Micro-Grids can be operated as either stand-alone (no connection to the power grid) or in Transactive energy mode (selling excess back to the power grid).
Transactive Energy is the connection of your micro-grid to a backup system (the power company) and the market (Transactive Energy) where you can sell your excess power!
TE is the future
The other side of solar and wind power at your house today. The first, hardest and biggest impediment to solar power at anyone’s home is the reality of the legal situation and the laws where you are. The first thing to do is check the laws specific to the production of power. For example, in some US locations, the power company is required by law to pay you for your excess power, but they only have to bay the distribution rate of 5 cents per KWH. That is significantly less than they charge you (15 to 17 cents per KWH). It is, however, the current law in many places. The other side of solar or wind power is as well the reality of batteries.
The reality of the batteries we are talking about is that they have a lifespan of two, three years at most. Crappy batteries will last a year. The issue is that these are batteries that may have to charge quickly and discharge over a long period. Many people I know that have built their solar (or wind) battery storage systems ended up using Marine batteries. Marine batteries buy you the advantage of being able to take charge and discharge process as much as 1000 times. (365 by three well you can do the math). Marine batteries are more expensive than traditional car batteries. However, they are more able to withstand the discharge and charge.
Tesla makes a battery bank, but that sadly has a two-three year lifespan as well. There are lots of considerations overall as I have discussed many times, around the technical reality of a solar installation. Getting your power company to install the required digital power meter can take a while (although in our case, the solar power company screwed up the paperwork. I ended up stepping in and fixing the problems, but we lost six months). The most important thing to remember overall is patience. Plan what you are going to do before you start to implement it. Decide what is critical for you and move in that direction!
I have a long time reader/friend that reminds me from time to time when I have spent a lot of time on a single topic. He politely says it might be time to move on. Normally it is an email sent to me saying time to take a break. I got the email on Transactive Energy yesterday. Although in this case, my friend suggested that I spend a little more time talking about the impact of solar power. In particular, he said, talk about the process of adding solar to your home (he I found out is contemplating a solar install!)
There are three parts to a solar installation on your roof or in your yard. The first part is the survey. Frankly, the survey is critical to your success. The most important thing about your survey is to make sure you understand how much power you use. You care most about peak, and you care about valleys. We had purchased a home generator the year before (a great Generac product, frankly, an amazing system). We knew exactly how much power we consumed peak. Based on that we helped our survey team out by giving them those results. They then focused on where on our roof we would have panels. We ended up doing front and rear of the house.
The second part of the process is the installation. I highly recommend before you begin your solar installation that you have your roof checked. If you needed to replace your roof in the next couple of years, it would be wise to replace the roof. The team will deploy safety ropes (that was fun to watch) so that the workers don’t risk falling off the roof! They will also haul up the solar panels on Installation is comprised of three parts.
- Installing the mounts for the solar power
- Installing the actual solar panels
- Installing the wiring for the system
They install your system in off mode. Power is generated but doesn’t flow through the system.
Because the last part of the process is getting your system activated with your power company, including a digital meter. You won’t, by the way, get credit for any power that flows from your house to the power company in most places. There are a few places that support the two flow of power. Many do not support the two-way or Transactive Energy system. Check with your power company before you assume!
Once you have your digital meter, they will notify you, and you turn your system on. It is simply turning a single switch. Once the system is active during daylight hours, you will be creating your power! Of course, all three steps have to be completed in order. Keep your eyes on the power company for the last step. While they are often responsive to customers asking for new power service, people are reducing their billing rate by installing solar, aren’t always on the top of their list!
A great comment posted on one of my previous Transactive energy posts. Not all businesses and houses have a southern exposure (needed for optimal solar energy absorption). That is completely true, but it isn’t truly as relevant as you think. In part because of the concepts that Transactive Energy gives us. If, and by the way in the world of TE, that IF is 600 point type a massive road blocking stopping all progress if. If, we can create a true Micro-Grid mentality, in a neighborhood. Those houses in southern exposure would have solar panels. Those houses with good space and the ability would have wind turbines. All of that energy would contribute to the neighborhood power. Just to be clear, the value that Transactive Energy and the laws and governance of that is the ability to create neighborhood collective. Where anyone house, contributes what it can contribute.
There are some pieces in the sale or wind power production world that have to be considered. Panels on the southern exposure to maximize the amount of energy collected, wind turbines in areas that wouldn’t cause noise or wildlife disruption. All of this provided to the neighborhood collective. All of this power shared, reducing the reality of carbon impact and making it easier to have and use power. One of the things I argued many years ago now, was that neighborhoods with community buildings could dig up the yard of the community building and put batteries for energy storage there instead of in each house.
It would allow a neighborhood to have e2 or 3 times the battery storage needed to support the neighborhood for two, three or four days. The connection to the power company would then be a secondary power source for the neighborhood.
I do understand that while the ideal is always possible, it isn’t always probable. With the new Tesla developed solar shingles, covering an entire roof with a solar array won’t impact the house as much as either a wind turbine or solar array would. It also allows the great production of power on none-southern exposure homes. I wish the reality of shared energy were probable; I know in the short run it isn’t but the technology for anyone homeowner regardless of roof exposure, to produce and offset some of their power needs is there.
Wandering the differences, Solar and Wind power. In particular lately, I’ve been talking about renewable energy sources. That category represents any power source that does not require a fuel source directly. Solar power and wind power, as well as geothermal power all, exist independent of burning, using or leveraging a fuel. They are converting the fuel of the sun. Solar power represents a direct conversion of sunlight to power. Wind Turbines represents an indirect conversion of solar power to power again. Geothermal is a little trickier as to its connection to solar; it’s limited but still some.
Transactive Energy is none of these power sources. IT is the transaction system for allowing a home, business or city to produce more energy than it consumes and therefore receives compensation for that created energy.TE is both technology and legislation. Solar power and wind turbines may have legislation that impacts the ability of a home or business owner deploying the solution. TE is however different in that it represents the technology needed to have electricity produced “off grid” and then moved to “the grid.” The reality of the system today is that it can be difficult to compensate the homeowner or business owner for that produced energy.
From a legal perspective, the issue of Transactive Energy is coming to many governments soon. In part because more and more solar installs are out there. In part because we need to reduce the carbon impact of humanity on the world around us. The problem with power today is the transmission. It is projected that you will lose 33% or more of power during transmission. The further the distance, the greater the loss. The excess produced by anyone house is not a significant amount of power. That ultimately means that it shouldn’t be broadcast a great distance, That brings up another topic I’ve discussed that being Micro-Grids. The power grid represents the existing power structure with a geographic space. A micro-grid is a grid that directly links consumers and producers. In the case of solar or wind turbines producing more than can be consumed,d the value is creating a micro-grid that is a neighborhood. Sharing power amongst the houses of a neighborhood is a smaller transmission distance, also reducing the peak day loads on the power company.
More to come….
Now the other side of the Transactive Energy world is what you use as a renewable energy source. Today there are three options, one is extremely expensive, and the other two are fairly responsible for pricing. The expensive renewable energy source is the creation of energy using Geothermal power. While you can do it, you have to maintain a turbine and other technology to continue to generate power. The cheaper systems are wind power and Solar.
Let’s take a look at the two systems and discuss the pros and cons of both. First, let’s talk about Wind Turbines. The easy pro is they are easy to use and while they have an enclosed turbine are less expensive than the Geothermal power option. They have space requirements, and of course, they do require wind. That means in my subdivisions throughout the world, where houses are pretty close together the what and how of the yard alignment boxes critical. The wind has to blow! For larger plots of land, A Wind Turbine is a better fit overall. Let’s review quickly, pros you get clean, renewable energy. Cons you have to have enough space and enough wind to power the turbine. Wind turbines require batteries due to the nature of wind. It gusts (producing lots of power), but sometimes it doesn’t’ blow consistently. Wind turbines in subdivisions normally have to be on roofs. If you happen to have more land, then on top a hill if possible is optimal!
Solar power is a little easier. It can be mounted in your backyard, or on your roof. Obviously on the roof greatly reduces the overall impact of where the panels are. Like a wind turbine, the value of batteries for solar systems are critical. You see when the sun goes down, so does solar production. The other risk you have is that your Home Owners Association (or HOA) won’t approve or allow either a wind turbine or a solar panel. That is a fairly large risk overall. Pros for solar, they last longer than most wind turbines today (they being solar panels). Wind Turbines have moving parts and require more Maintenance, lasting 7-10 years. Solar panels last 15-20 years overall.
Both systems Wind and Solar have batteries that are easily installed. They, Wind or Solar, integrate with existing generations. You need a battery system to distribute the energy when there is no wind or when the sun is down. The value overall is the savings you get!
The concept of Transactive energy has to do with energy production and the movement of that energy. There many places where the two way flow of energy exists, but frankly the reality of energy distribution is part of the problem. Acceptable loss due to physical limitations can be as much and 40% of the originally transmitted energy. The changes required to reduce the loss would be significant for most power companies. The resulting savings and reduction of atmospheric pollution would be unbelievable.
Scott’s Rules on TE (Transactive Energy)
- Every building around the world higher than five stories should have a mandatory power offset rule. I.e., they have to have a wind turbine or solar array on the roof to offset the cost of the power consumed by the building.
- Any HOA that prohibits Solar or Wind Turbines should be placed in a special tax bracket, say 50% or more of their assets seized every year. HOA’s that limit clean energy are short-sighted and need to stop.
- All solar neighborhoods that produce more than 60% of their total energy requirements using the arrays should be rewarded in some fashion.
Those are the first two of a set of rules I wrote roughly a year ago. The reality of home energy today is the reality of the grid. Micro-grids are created when you deploy solar or a wind turbine at your home. A micro-grid includes a power production, power distribution and power consumption source in a unified location. Many governments around the world have been working on the concept of Micro-grids for many years.
The reality of TE is that it was still most likely 3 to 5 years ago. The laws that govern and allow for TE are still willy-nilly in the sense that some states have them, some states do not. Overall the concept is one that is coming. With Elon Musk’s Tesla solar roofing tiles the question won’t be why don’t you have solar, its do you want your whole roof solar?
TE fan, solar fan!