With the challenges of natural disasters, population growth, and climate change, new approaches to energy production and distribution are needed. The solutions must warrant vibrant and sustained growth for all. AI Grid Foundation (Foundation) is a non-profit organization based in Singapore who advocates for employing decentralized renewable energy as a possible pathway to address the problematic centralized AC grids as mentioned above. The Foundation has collaborated with global organizations and local communities to develop the Eloncity Model; a multifaceted solution that employs decentralized renewable energy resources to eradicate barriers to attain safe, healthy, vibrant and equitable energy future.
Decentralized renewable energy is employing locally available renewable resources, such as solar or wind power, to produce electricity locally where it is consumed. When energy customers in a community coordinate with each other to exchange energy and share energy equipment costs-benefits (e.g., solar PV, BESS, energy management system, and others) to access more reliable and cost-effective local energy supply, to maximize the utilization rates of the installed equipment for accelerated return-of-investment (ROI) and other benefits, they essentially create a community-based renewable microgrid. This type of decentralized community-based renewable microgrid holds tremendous potential for fortifying the centralized grids and solving the problems threatening our energy safety and security.
The proposed Eloncity Model integrates advanced technologies, best practices and lessons learned to create a scalable and replicable recipe for unleashing the potential of the community-based renewable microgrid to attain a more vibrant regenerative energy future.
Open and Secured Energy Transaction – The ECTP or blockchain platform provides an open, secured and distributed ledger for efficient recording of the transaction of energy services in the community in verifiable and immutable manner. The blockchain platform also enables Eloncity to establish an auditable record for tracking the sources of electricity generation in the community, whether it is renewable or fossil fuel. The auditable tracking of electricity generation sources is critical for valuation of electricity based on generation sources and monitor the community’s progress toward the renewable GHG-free future. This feature facilitates a shared resource economy to maximize asset utilization rates and cost-effective access to decentralized renewable energy.
Unified and Efficient Energy Marketplace – Eloncity Token facilitates an open market that enables communities around the world to exchange energy and shared-resources locally and also to access the uni ed network of global renewable energy products and solutions. Similarly, renewable product and service providers bene t from a more open global market.
Greater Reliability – The Eloncity provides greater energy service reliability through the decentralized energy architecture’s inherent design ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to and rapidly recover from potentially disruptive events. The Eloncity design includes locally solar PV arrays or windmills, and intelligent networked BESS for maintaining local electric service stability, flexibility and resilient energy supply during grid service disruptions and emergency events. The BESS, either behind-the-meter and front-of-the-meter, will power the entire community for the desired duration to ride through an emergency event, through the PV non-production periods, until the sun or wind becomes available again to energize the local renewable generators to recharge the BESS. The Eloncity Model is a direct response to address the mismatch of electricity supply and demand at every level of the grid network and overcome risks of single point vulnerabilities inherent in the centralized grid architecture.
Lower Costs – The Eloncity Model is designed to lower Eloncity community energy expenditures over the project’s useful life. The energy expenditure savings are achieved by the combination of (a) Local DC grid network within each community, large appliances powered by DC electricity, together with targeted energy efficiency retrofits to lower overall energy losses and consumption, (b) Generate renewable energy locally to o set all or most of local electricity demands, (c) Flatten peak energy demands to minimize costly demand capacity charges, (d) Purchase centralized grid energy only during the period of lower cost (i.e., o -peak in constrained areas or excessive-generation in areas with utility-scale renewables), and (e) Provide ancillary services to the centralized grid to generate revenues. Economic savings is a fundamental feature of the Eloncity Model, especially in addressing the mounting challenges with high energy cost which disproportionately burden the underserved communities.
Increased Safety – The Eloncity’s renewable generation and BESS reduce or eliminate risks from the dependence on fossil fuel-based backup generators that are often not available in a disaster, have high safety risks of re, explosions, gas poisoning, and are quite likely available for only the limited amount of time while gas/diesel is available. Eloncity will power the public safety facilities indefinitely in standalone mode with inexhaustible local renewable resources. The Eloncity Model offers a direct response to address the unacceptable risks to public health and safety posed by the fossil fuel-based energy resources.
Societal Benefits – Community-based renewable microgrid (CRM), based on the Eloncity Model, supplies daily clean renewable energy to power the community. The CRM provides energy security and community safety during the disaster and emergency events, as well as ongoing energy bill savings that allow the community to focus its budgets toward critical social programs. Additionally, CRM projects include targeted building energy efficiency retrofits that not only produce energy and financial savings but also make existing community facilities more comfortable and productive with the installation of more energy efficient equipment and building retro commissioning. This mission is driven by how the Eloncity Model is structured to unlock more than quantitative benefits through a decentralized energy system. The vision of Eloncity is also grounded in an energy future that is more equitable and poised for universal replication because of its intended qualitative and societal benefits. Beyond the metrics of a more efficient energy system, the decentralized energy system of the Eloncity Model is designed specifically to advance the environmental, social and cultural values of its stakeholders.
GHG Emissions Reduction – Eloncity will achieve significant GHG emission mitigation by (a) reducing GHG emission through targeted building energy efficiency to lower energy consumption, (b) replacing fossil fuel- based electricity generation with renewable electricity generation and (c) limiting the needs to operate fossil fuel-based peaker plants through flatten peak demands with load-shifting with combinations of energy storage and customer energy demand management. This feature addresses the concern for public health and environmental equity, especially for disadvantaged communities.
Adaptation – Eloncity’s decentralized energy system provides the community with increasing energy security and resilience to adapt to any potential climate-induced, other natural or human-made disasters. The Eloncity’s decentralized and redundant local renewable generations with intelligent networked BESS will continuously power the community during emergency events when the centralized grid services are disrupted. The ability to safeguard the community with a resilient energy infrastructure remains a dire need that is the embedded in the DNA of the Eloncity Model.
Low-emission Vehicles/ Transportation – The Eloncity power system and blockchain architectures include an advanced energy management system, local renewable power generation, an intelligent networked BESS, electric vehicle (EV) to grid connection, and roaming EV charging to support the electrification of transportation. With the benefits of EV and V2G technologies, the Eloncity Model advances public safety, health, and lower transportation cost.
Economic Development – Eloncity will produce energy locally for local consumption. Significant energy expenditures will be retained locally to support the local economy. Eloncity projects will directly support local clean energy employment that will provide human resources to support the Eloncity project planning, design, build and operation. Thus, Eloncity provides not only energy security and community safety, it also holds significant potential for economic development where local communities are empowered to expand the local capacity and workforce.
Environmental Benefits and Public Health – As discussed in the above paragraphs on “Increasing Safety” and “GHG Emission Reduction”, Eloncity will maximize the synergies of targeted energy efficiency retrofits, decentralized renewable generation, energy storage and other decentralized resources to lessen the reliance on fossil fuel backup generators that are often not available in a disaster, have high safety risks of re, explosions, and gas poisoning.