Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on the night of August 25, and in the weeks since then the U.S. Energy Department has been flooding the media with news about its work on grid resiliency. It’s a timely topic, considering the destructive path carved by Harvey, Jose, and Maria. The Energy Department is now focusing more attention on the relationship between microgrids and resiliency. In particular, that includes microgrids that integrate distributed renewable energy resources, aka DERs.
We’re probably going to hear much more about microgrids, DERs and “black start” recovery in the coming months. To provide a leg up on the issues, last week TriplePunditgathered some insights from microgrid expert Jared Smith of the global technology and innovation firm PA Consulting.
The following notes from our conversation are edited for flow and readability.
The conventional approach to grid resiliency is not working
Until recently, grid resiliency has focused on hardening utility poles and other conventional infrastructure against extreme weather and other emergencies.
The destruction unleashed by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria has already demonstrated the shortcomings of that strategy, and there are still two months to go in this year’s hurricane season.
The ongoing flood of news about cyber attacks — real and threatened — has also exposed vulnerabilities in the traditional grid design.
Smith outlines the need for making resiliency a top priority, and the need to make radical changes in the way the electrical power industry approaches resiliency: