Buzz is building around smart grid on energyMMOWGLI. Players want to see the development of smart grid on Navy bases (and micro grids on ships) in order to boost energy efficiency and system resilience. See Action Plan 27 and Card IDs 1372, 3222, 1438, 3653, 317, 995, 1449. Players note that improving the energy efficiency of base buildings including housing represents the first step toward achieving this.
In contrast to the conventional grid, a smart grid uses information technologies to improve how electricity travels from generation source to consumers, allows consumers to interact with the grid, and integrates new and improved technologies into the operation of the grid. With its diverse mix of housing and other facilities situated relatively closely together, a military base offers an ideal smart grid deployment project.
energyMMOWGLI players have offered a range of ideas for building out a smart grid. For example, electrification of on-base transportation (Card IDs 2744, 2773), including tug boats in ports (Card ID C1613), and linking together a diverse mix of generation sources such as solar and wind but also wave power (Card ID 837) and nuclear submarines while in port (Card ID 517). Some well-informed players have been quick to note that there are legal barriers (i.e. protection of local utility interests) with this (Card IDs 540, 557).
Countervailing views are surfacing questioning whether bases (and all government facilities) should be taken completely off the grid. Some players contend that a linkage should be maintained in order to contribute excess power to the community and available power in case of emergency. See Card IDs 709, 402, 694, 368. Entrepreneurial players suggest that the Navy could supplement its budget by selling power to the wider grid (Card ID 3709).
The Moffett Field smart grid project provides an example of a public-private partnership with local smart grid and other companies as well as local municipalities. For other examples of U.S. deployment projects and the broader economic impacts of smart grid, see recent Silicon Valley Smart Grid Taskforce report.
The first step to deploying the smart grid on Navy bases, as many players noted, is improving energy efficiency of all facilities including housing. The Navy has made a critical move by having promotion boards consider an officer’s energy management when considering promotion; however, behavior at home is a separate issue (Card ID 3622).
A problem noted with base housing is that it tends to be in private hands and of low quality. Residents are not likely able or willing to make investments in the installation of insulation or upgraded windows and doors. The Navy Installations Command recently announced the expansion of the Resident Energy Conservation Program (RECP) for Public Private Venture (PPV) housing in the U.S. This means that residents of privately-owned housing will begin paying their own electricity bills in an effort to transfer responsibility for usage to the residents.
The deployment of smart grid on bases could take the RECP efforts to the next level by empowering residents with the realtime information about their own usage patterns and thereby heightening grid reliability and productivity.
Guest blog by Tracey Grose, Institute for the Future