Blog post from Scientific American: Are Microgrids the Key to Energy Security?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
By: Melissa C. Lott

A guest blog post from the Scientific American:

“Energy independence” is a concept that has become part of the political lexicon and touted as a panacea for a downturn economy. Recently, the concept has morphed into “energy security” which encompasses not only a domestic abundance of energy resources, but freedom from energy market manipulation. Still, there are numerous and conflicting definitions for energy security. Does energy security mean using only renewable or carbon-neutral energy resources to prevent further anthropogenic global warming? How do fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, fit into a secure energy future? One thing is certain – we know an energy security failure we when we see it…or worse, experience it. The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy was the most recent example of how vulnerable society is to disruptions in energy supply. According to the Department of Energy, more than 8.6 million customers were without power following Sandy, more than any other storm in history. However, amidst the extensive Northeast blackouts were “islands” of power that may point the way to true energy security. Microgrids kept the lights on when the electric transmission system failed.