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Microgrids Might Be Ready for the Big City

A new study shows they’re capable of meeting real-world power needs.
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Reuters / Yuriko Nakao

The energy grid is changing. Cables laid down years ago have served us well, but they’re struggling to keep up with millions of new customers and their expanding use of electronics. They’re also vulnerable to disruptions, like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack; if the central nodes of a grid get hit, tens of thousands of people could lose power.

Microgrids offer a more local alternative to the traditional grid. By linking up nearby buildings with localized electricity production, these networks gain the ability to function on their own in the event of broader grid failure. If that local generation is from clean sources, like rooftop solar installations, the microgrid could shave carbon emissions while shrinking a neighborhood’s electricity bill.