When I contemplated installing solar panels on my home the last thing on my mind was how it might impact my neighbors and my community at large. Until now, I knew little about how the electrical grid works and never imagined my tiny solar panels would be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The rapid growth of solar power in Hawaii highlights the upside of residential power generation in the form of solar panels and the challenges when that generation is distributed in an uncontrolled manner. When the sun shines brightly on a cloudless day all that power generation has the potential to put too much power on the grid and cause it to break down similar to when lightning strikes a power line and causes it to explode!
Residential power generation is highlighting the problems with our aging electrical grid and providing a glimpse of the solutions we may want to explore. The best part of all this is the discussion taking place between solar power companies, utilities, and consumers. Republicans and environmentalists are forming alliances together in an effort to ensure energy production is given an even playing field.
It is important to note that we all share the same electrical grid the same way we share the same internet. If one part becomes congested or flows too much electricity and breaks we all suffer. Encouraging smarter monitoring, control, and storage technologies will make for a better solution for all of us.