Bridgeport, Connecticut
The US electricity grid is built to deal with rain, snow, winds, and lightning. But it couldn’t handle Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Across the northeastern coast, more than 8 million homes lost electricity at some point during the storm. In Connecticut, more than one in five residents lost power.
A hurricane-proof way to make sure the lights never go out is to use backup microgrid energy. Instead of the typical long, overground cables (which can snap under the weight of a fallen tree) connected to large power plants, a microgrid has short cables (often buried underground) connected to small power generators that operate independent of any given region’s power grid.
Still, it’s far from perfect. At small scales, fossil-fuel power is inefficient, causing noise and air pollution. Diesel generators are still used in many cities to power buildings the size of hospitals, but people want pollution-free alternatives. Renewable energy from solar …