The Big Bid Theory this week interviewed Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge, about energy efficiency, microgrids, nanogrids and virtual power plants.
Now in its fourth season, The Big Bid Theory podcast is produced in Austin, Texas, and focuses on technology and other topics for a national audience of business and government professionals.
Host Bill Culhane asked Wood why energy efficiency is important and so often in the news now.
“There is a saying in the field that no kilowatt is cheaper than the one not used. You’re going to save money because you’re buying less energy,” Wood said.
She added that energy efficiency is in the news now because this summer was reportedly the fourth hottest on record. “The air conditioners are whirring and using a lot of energy,” she said.
In the two decades since she began writing about energy efficiency, much has changed. Back then, energy efficiency advocates focused on conserving energy; it was about self-sacrifice.
“It was turn up your themostat and be a little warmer to save energy. Or turn off your lights and squint a little more. But technology changed energy efficiency dramatically. It’s no longer about sacrifice, but about using intelligent technologies so that we can use less energy — without sacrifice,” she said.
“Microgrids, nanogrids and virtual power plants — this is where you start to generate electricity in highly efficient ways,” she said.
She noted that as electricity travels down wires, five to seven percent vanishes in transit. “That’s a fair amount of money that gets lost. So it’s better to have your energy source closer to where it is used. That’s where this concept of microgrids and nanogrids comes in,” she said.
Listen to the The Big Bid Theory podcast with Elisa Wood.
Because they are located near those they serve, power isn’t lost in transit. “But there’s more to it than that; that’s just one little benefit of microgrids,” she added.
Microgrids help us overcome a “massive inefficiency” — power outages, she said.
“We have hurricanes, we have wildfires, we have these different kinds of calamities — lightening strikes. Squirrels nibble on a wire, and we lose power. That’s an enormous inefficiency to a society that is completely based on electrification. Suddenly your factory goes down or your computer goes down, and you can’t work. A microgrid is a way to ensure you always have power.”
Join Elisa Wood in San Diego, Calif., May 14-16, for “Microgrid 2019: Shaping the New Electric Grid,” Microgrid Knowledge’s fourth annual conference.