Solar Microgrids and the New Peer-to-Peer Economy

In 2015, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a paper referencing peer-to-peer energy saving, explaining the concept as one that will help every person on the planet access electricity, even if they cannot afford to pay traditional electric companies. The idea behind solar microgrids and the peer-to-peer economy is the idea that those with solar power gain more energy than can be used. These "energy rich" people are tied into a microgrid, where they sell the leftover energy to another person who either needs electricity or needs more electricity during certain times of the day. The Wave of the Future The concept is bright, and it may seem like it's light years away from happening, but it's actually happening right now in Brooklyn, New York. A startup in the city is hoping to make waves this year with their community microgrids, where those who can afford solar panels buy and sell energy to others who do not have the means to purchase the hardware for solar use. Dubbed simply, "The Brooklyn Microgrid", the idea will be the use of a TransActive Grid, which is designed specifically to support peer-to-peer energy sharing. This grid, according to treehugger.com, will use the blockchain combined with smart contracts to move energy from buyer, to seller, and back again, according to a contract similar to that of a traditional electricity company. Unique Energy Acquirement This new microgrid is groundbreaking - there is no other like it in the world, to date. The report published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology only dreamed of such a system; in only two years, it has become a close reality. This specific system will cover the Gowanus and Park Slope communities, combining solar and local energy to loan to the peer-to-peer network. Consumers will finally have a real choice in energy use and consumption, and how they treat the surrounding environment.

How Important Is This?

While most businesses and residences in Brooklyn have access to electricity, the Massachusetts report indicated that 1.3 billion people around the world do not have electricity. This limits access to health care, education, and opportunities to catch up to other, more advanced world leaders. Currently, there is little to be done about this limited electricity access - to date, companies have been unable to figure out how to get electricity to these people. This microgrid system seems to be a logical answer. The sun is everywhere, and solar panels have the ability to work in even the most polar parts of human habitation. Peer-to-peer energy sharing is the answer to getting electricity to these 1.3 billion people, who will then be able to be healthier, more educated, and increase their economic standing in the world.

Part of this is the everyday savings that solar panels provide. After six or seven years, the panels have often paid for themselves. The tax incentives are nothing to sneeze at either, providing annual savings both on federal and state taxes.

What Does the Future Hold?

The future of solar power looks great, especially with plans such as the microgrid being implemented within our own borders. This method of sharing and selling unused energy answers the question of excess energy which is sometimes wasted by solar panels, and helps more people access cheaper energy when previously, energy was unavailable or overpriced. There is no better land than America to use this technology, because we have the dedicated space to create a system of renewable energy available to all. If a microgrid system is possible in a city as crowded as a borough of New York, it's possible anywhere. What's more, solar power energy prices are expected to surpass coal in lowered prices in 2017, which means more businesses and residences will become interested in making the switch to rooftop solar. Fortunately, those who cannot afford the hardware still have access to the benefits. The future of energy seems to be a shared solar power system for everyone, with less money spent on overall energy costs.

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