Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Microgrids and more

Renewable Energy Power – Microgrids

microgridMany communities will never be connected to a traditional power grid. They are too far away from power sources. It would cost too much to connect them, and take too long.

Conventional power grids are often required to transmit electricity over long distances. The power source might be a far-away coal-fired, gas or nuclear powered plant, a hydroelectric dam or a large-scale solar power station. Long range power transmission is hugely expensive, both in infrastructure costs and loss of power and efficiency.

Just as the introduction of cell phones allowed people in developing countries to skip landlines altogether, microgrids offer a chance to bypass a centralized distribution model. They allow for the local production and distribution of electricity, at a much lower cost than extending the grid.

Microgrids can provide electricity for homes, schools, businesses, heath care clinics and other vital needs. Microgrids are integrated energy systems consisting of sources of energy (distributed energy resources) and multiple electrical loads operating as a single, autonomous grid.  A microgrid can operate completely independently, or it can be incorporated with a conventional grid, adding power to or taking power from the grid.

A renewable energy microgrid can integrate multiple sustainable energy sources. These include solar, wind, small hydro, bio gas, geothermal, waste-to-energy and combined heat and power (CHP) systems. A microgrid can include  a rechargeable battery bank and charging system. It can also include a generator fueled by diesel or other fuel. Microgrids can meet the electricity needs of villages and towns, 24 hours a day.

Mark Snyder in front of solar panels at Alpine School, which is net-zero energy

Mark Snyder at the Alpine School, another school he helped achieve net-zero energy status.

These systems incorporate any combination of renewable energy power sources, including solar, wind, hydro, biomass, bio gas, geothermal and waste to energy.

In 1985, Mark Snyder devised a bio-energy conversion system to supply electricity and waste heat to 20 acres (8.09  hectares) of greenhouses, using peach pits from a cannery. Since that time, Mark has designed and deployed thousands of residential and commercial renewable energy power systems throughout the southwest in the U.S.

Mr. Snyder is a master electrician, certified in electrical forensics. He is an authority on electrical systems and infrastructure. Mark has an electrical contracting business called Mark Snyder Electric, based in Poway, California. He is a consultant to some of the world’s largest power companies, and is frequently called upon to provide expert testimony regarding electrical infrastructure damage. In 1998, Mark was chosen to serve on a White House panel investigating Y2K concerns for the nation’s electrical infrastructure.

This combination of vision, experience and expertise qualify Mark for the task of getting power to people in remote areas, and for offering cost saving renewable energy solutions. Providence partners with GSWPS and Mark Snyder Electric, to make these innovations available in areas where they are most needed.

kids in front of solar panel array at Star School

The Star School now produces as much energy as it consumes, making it net-zero.

Mark recently installed a renewable energy microgrid at the Star School, a school near the Navajo Indian reservation in a remote part of Arizona. The school is far from any electrical grid, and derives power from its own solar and wind resources, plus a battery bank and LP gas generator. There had been a previous system installed by someone else, but much of it was dysfunctional.

Mark’s conversion of the dysfunctional legacy system to a single high efficiency system resulted in an increase in usable power of 75%. The Star School relies on this system for all of its power needs, from computers to the cafeteria. Thanks to these improvements, the Star School is now net-zero, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes. To learn more about the Star School energy efficiency and the renewable energy microgrid,      click  here.

The six member crew assisting Mark in this project was entirely Navajo. They are part of a crew from one of Mark’s previous projects, trained in installing and maintaining solar power systems. This is consistent with our goal of providing training and creating jobs.