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Brooklyn to build the first solar city in the US, fully independent from the grid

Ian CrosslandMay 14, 2015, 10:05:55 PM

Brooklyn, the largest borough in New York City, is on a mission to build the first electrically independent community microgrid in the United States.  The governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, is offering a $40 million incentive to lock in the design of the microgrid and build them throughout the state.

Current solar technologies include a bit of a problem: if the grid goes down, your solar panels stop working.  This surprised a lot of people when hurricane Sandy struck the city because they thought their panels were supposed to keep working when the grid went down.  Unfortunately, that is not the way conventional macrogrids are set up; all panels (and other electrical inputs) shut off to ensure that workers at some other area of the grid don't get electrocuted while working because you are generating energy.

The microgrid is a solution to that and more.  It is a sub-grid, within the main grid, able to connect (and stay connected) to the area's main power grid, but also able to switch off from it and power itself.  Citizens in the area of Park Slope and Gowanus will be using their own solar panels and wind generators to trade electricity amongst themselves if (and when) something disrupts the grid.

They can also sell and trade their energy to the existing macrogrid.  This is the beginning of a new type of decentralized energy structure where communities will power themselves first, helping to ensure local sustainability and trade.

Locally producing your own electricity additionally mitigates energy loss, because electricity is lost as it is transported over large distances.  It is estimated that 6% of the electricity generated and transferred from centralized power plants is lost in transmission.


Here, Steve Pullins from Green Energy Corp. explains the microgrid


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Image Credit: http://ecowatch.com/2013/12/23/brooklyn-whole-foods-solar-wind-ev-chargers-greenhouse/