From Science Daily:
Known for snow rather than sun, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula could still support a significant network of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems. Solar energy alone in the region is seasonally restricted. However, solar coupled with cogeneration and batteries could overcome any cloudy, cold winter day.
Michigan Tech engineers and sociologists explored what this new technology, and the role of demographics, could mean for energy alternatives in the Upper Peninsula in a new study published in Energy Policy. Their analysis found that by 2020, leaving the electrical grid is a viable economic option for the majority of seasonal households (92 percent) as well as single-family owner-occupied households (65 percent).
Cogeneration systems are small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which usually run on natural gas and produce heat as they generate electricity. They can function year-round and are most effective in the winter when solar production is low. Along with improved battery storage, these hybrid systems would not require being tied into the electrical grid. The costs of CHP systems are coming down and are projected to keep decreasing.
“The costs of centralized energy distribution, on the other hand, are going to be higher than they are today,” says Joshua Pearce, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering as well as materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech. He co-authored the study looking at the economics behind solar-hybrid systems.
“With these new technologies,” Pearce says, “you can put the CHP in your basement, the battery bank in your garage, and solar…