A remarkable series of predictions about the future of the grid is emerging from NREL – the National Renewable Energy Lab in the US. Because batteries can now store far more energy, renewable energy, and specifically solar power, is becoming a disruptive technology for the fossil-fuel industry.
In the past few years, this vision has grown from a theory on whiteboards to real-power experiments on lab hardware. It’s called “Autonomous Energy Grids” (AEG), an effort to ensure the grid of the future can manage a growing base of intelligent energy devices, variable renewable energy, and advanced controls. The AEG effort envisions a self-driving power system—a very “aware” network of technologies and distributed controls that work together to efficiently match bi-directional energy supply to energy demand. This is a hard pivot from today’s system, in which centralized control is used to manage one-way electricity flows to consumers along power lines that spoke out from central generators.
Outside of the labs, where real business serves ordinary people, the same trends are being seen. In Florida, it is hard for state and federal officials to ignore the coalesced voices of regional business, government, academic, nonprofit and neighborhood leaders. Rob Kornaherns, owner of Fort Lauderdale’s Advanced Roofing, the state’s largest solar contractor, called battery storage a “real game-changer.” By 2050, he sees everyone “off the grid around the world.”