MGK Editor Take VI: Microgrids Changing Energy Landscape from Long Beach to Lone Star

Sept. 8, 2023
Here’s a truism as big as Texas: You just never know where and when change is going to come. On-site power is engaging everything from renewables to hydrogen and making huge impacts across industries and regions.

Here’s a truism as big as Texas: You just never know where and when change is going to come.

Last night, I watched the Detroit Lions roar into the home stadium of defending Super Bowl champ Kansas City Chiefs and win the first game of the NFL season. Granted, it’s only one game and Patrick Mahome’s receiver couldn’t catch the ball at key moments, but it offered proof that Detroit’s rise last season was no fluke. Times are a’changing in unlikely places.

Today, we bring you stories from very different places—a massively busy port on the West Coast and then the heart of rock-ribbed conservative Texas. In the former story, Kathy Hitchens writes about a fascinating development in which FuelCell Energy’s system will produce electricity and hydrogen for Toyota’s processing fleet at the Port of Long Beach. Hydrogen, or H2, does not contain carbon in its chain and thus does not emit carbon dioxide when combusted. Electrolyzers and clean energy will help Toyota decarbonize its port fleet operations immensely over time, proving that even the automobile industry can be a fellow traveler on the many paths to net zero

In the Lone Star state, there’s a saying that there’s hot and then there’s Texas hot. Excessive temperatures had residents cranking down the thermostat leading to record peak demand this week—and for the umpteenth time this year. The load got so high that the grid was hanging by a slender margin of remaining generating capacity. This also happened during February 2021, of all times, when Winter Storm Uri punctured the Texas comfort zone and nearly brought down the grid managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. 

Here's the catch: Texas, land of oil and gas, is now a national leader in utility-scale wind energy, new-gen development of microgrids and distributed energy resources. Utilities and microgrid developers are being encouraged and funded to grow the DER base to create virtual power plants and power resiliency for the long-term future. And that’s a future you can hang your ten-gallon hat on.

The only constant in life is change, but that doesn’t mean you know from whence it comes. But it comes. Bet your bottom dollar on that.

Editor's Note: This introduction came in our most recent Microgrid Knowledge Newsletter. Click here to read more about the Microgrid Revolution and subscribe to our free newsletter. 

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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