Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Microgrids

PostedJanuary 10, 2016

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Anchor Lede: Hackers may have caused a recent widespread power blackout in Ukraine. Such massive outages might be prevented by innovations coming from Alaska.

Randy Atkins: Unlike most of the U-S, Alaska doesn’t have an electric grid that extends across the state but instead…

Gwen Holdmann: …about 250 communities that each are served by their own local micro-grid.

Randy Atkins: Gwen Holdman is director of the Alaska Center for Energy and Power. She says such local micro-grids, powered by renewable energy like solar or wind, could be way of the future…everywhere. She points out that our current grid…

Gwen Holdmann: …was designed over 100 years ago and many of the ways that we use electricity today weren’t even dreamed of back then. So we need to reinvent our system.

Randy Atkins: In a changing world, micro-grids could offer both environmental and security benefits, since one weak link wouldn’t bring everyone down. And Holdmann says Alaska is already working on the engineering to make them practical for wide-spread use.

Gwen Holdmann: We’re at the edge of the grid and at the edge of the grid, that’s often where innovation often happens.