The Benefits of Distributed Energy

The Benefits of Distributed Energy

Distributed energy.  Sounds good.  It is.  It’s actually the ultimate goal when it comes to dealing with our energy crisis.  In the back of our minds, we want to minimize our impact on the environment.  But when it comes down to discussing energy, we simply want to make it affordable, improve the quality and the reliability of the supply.  Distributed energy does just that.  It refers to the many new technologies that have small, modular, power-generating capacity and are combined with load management and energy storage systems to provide energy at or near the point of consumption.

Traditional methods of producing energy used more centralized operations that generate power onsite and deliver it to consumers through high-voltage power lines.  Examples of these more centralized operations are nuclear power plants, coal burning plants, and hydroelectric damns.  It goes without saying that these particular methods are have significant impacts on the environment.

Distributed energy requires consumers to produce their own energy onsite to feed into their utility’s electrical grid.  Distributed energy involves a wide range of technologies including wind turbines, solar power, fuel cells, microturbines, reciprocating engines, load reduction technologies, and battery storage systems.  These distributed energy technologies are used to produce baseload power, peak power, backup power, remote power, power quality, as well as cooling and heating.

The effective employment of distributed energy also relieves congestion in transmission lines, prevents energy rate fluctuations, stabilizes the electricity grid, and re-establishes energy security.  Because distributed energy sources need to be connected to the grid, they also support and strengthen the central-station model of electricity generation, transmission, and distribution.  

 The Department of Energy is currently developing technologies to integrate renewable and distributed energy systems into the electricity grid at the distribution level.  Americans must make efforts to retrofitting their properties with renewable and distributed energy systems that improve the overall effectiveness of our energy infrastructure.

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