What is Distributed Energy and Why Does It Matter to Solar?

distributed energy

6-02-2015 What is Distributed Energy and Why Does It Matter to Solar?

Distributed energy has become a hot topic of conversation in energy circles. It’s not a new concept, but it seems more achievable than ever, thanks to the sudden growth in the residential rooftop solar industry. There’s no question about distributed energy’s place in America. It’s here to stay, and it’s worth knowing a few basics about this interesting concept.

What is Distributed Energy?

Distributed energy is the practice of producing energy close to consumers by using smaller-scale module devices. This is different from the traditional model of centralized energy, where a power plant makes energy in one location and then sends it to consumers over long distances.

Instead of relying on a power plant to give them energy, consumers who opt for distributed energy generally make their own or invest in locally produced energy. This can include rooftop solar PV arrays, wind turbines, fuel cells, and combustion turbines. Though much of distributed energy takes the form of green energy, there are some fossil fuel options available.

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Why Does It Matter?

Distributed energy is at the very heart of the residential rooftop solar industry. It gives people the power and freedom to control their own energy use. Even if solar homeowners aren’t completely off the grid, they still rely less on it than they did before solar. Distributed energy is a new way of creating and delivering energy to consumers that has the potential to revolutionize the energy industry.

It offers solutions to many of the nation’s most pressing energy problems. It can help alleviate blackouts and brownouts and power quality issues. When used alongside renewables, distributed energy can easily abide by stricter emissions standards and help prevent further climate change.

What’s Next for Distributed Energy?

The boom in home batteries for solar systems is an interesting development, but the solar industry might not be ready for solar plus storage yet. However, it is moving towards home battery storage, especially as the option becomes more feasible for average homeowners. In the future, solar homeowners may very well be off-grid completely with solar plus storage.

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