Episode 129: What would it take to go off the grid entirely?

Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and in the CMU Department of Engineering & Public Policy, explains what it means to go off the grid and how a community can do it.

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Off the Grid or Standalone Energy Systems from the U.S. Department of Energy

How Microgrids Will Shape the Future from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Going off the Grid with Solar from the U.S. Department of Energy

Community and Shared Solar from the U.S. Department of Energy


Transcript

HOST: Have you ever thought about your community going off the electric grid entirely? How hard would it be? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

APT: To go completely off the electricity grid, you need a source of fuel that will generate power for you any time that you want it. You can do that in several ways. One way is to go with wind and solar and a very large energy storage device such as a battery or pumped hydroelectric power.

The second is to go off the electric grid, but stay on the natural gas grid and generate your power through natural gas. That has an advantage as you can capture the heat from the natural gas process and use it to heat your factory or hospital. It’s off grid in the electric power sense, but on grid for natural gas.

HOST: How hard is it to go off grid?

APT: The difficulty with off grid solutions in general is that you have to maintain your equipment and there will be some times when it just breaks. When that happens, you need some mechanism to reduce your demand, or if that is not possible, have a separate source of power.

HOST: Is going off the grid an option for your community? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

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