Could 'off-the-grid technology' be the future of electricity?

Posted Feb 22, 2019 by Karen Graham
The renewable energy boom is pushing the electrical grid to its limits, forcing electrical distribution businesses to look closer at generation technologies (DG) and storage services.
OOM Energy s Dedicated Energy System (DES) is a viable alternative to the public grid.
OOM Energy's Dedicated Energy System (DES) is a viable alternative to the public grid.
OOM Energy
Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services firm that provides strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services, published its 2018 Digitally Enabled Grid research report recently, and it has some interesting statistics for electricity demand going forward.
In a survey of 150 executives of electrical distribution companies in 25 countries, Accenture found that 95 percent of them agreed on the risk of consumers going off the grid and only using it as an occasional backup will increase significantly in the next two years.
Even though some energy experts are saying they don't foresee a future where businesses and homeowners will disconnect from the grid, there are some that have already done so. Accenture found that 99 percent of the respondents in their survey believed parts of their grid will have reached maximum capacity in the next five years.
Disconnecting from the electric grid
When tree limbs brush up against high-voltage power-lines, the result can be massive blackouts, like the August 2003 blackout, when three transmission lines short-circuited and 45 million people in the northeastern U.S., as well as 10 million in Ontario, were in the dark.
More recently, Pacific Gas & Electricity (PG&E), California's largest utility company, had to file for bankruptcy after being held responsible for its power lines and equipment being the alleged source of massive wildfire damage in 2017. Again, it was power lines being downed after brushing up against tree limbs.
Incidents such as these have resulted in a number of businesses and even a number of individual consumers opting to disconnect entirely from the electrical grid. Many are going to on-site power generation by private utilities and firms like OOM Energy of Oakville, Ontario.
Toronto skyline during the 2003 Northeast blackout.
Toronto skyline during the 2003 Northeast blackout.
Camerafiend at English Wikipedia.
Going off the grid with OOM
Craig Clydesdale is the founder and CEO of Oakville, Ontario-based OOM Energy. The company has developed a new way to supply power to customers that is not only stable but reduces their carbon footprint and is portable.
"You're looking at the next big thing," Clydesdale said, referring to his company's Integrated Energy Platform (IEP). The IEP is basically a power station in a box placed outside a facility. It can be scaled up or down to meet energy needs and also add in new green technologies as they become available, Clydesdale said.
The OOM unit is not a generator. Generators only produce mechanical energy and deliver it as a backup when existing electrical systems fail. OOM Energy's unit provides electricity as the main source, without the use of the electrical grid. The company's fully integrated technologies include OOM’s powerful Remote Intelligent Smartphone technology which manages and monitors the facility in real time.
IEP is a hybrid solution that includes a combination of technologies such as battery  carbon sequest...
IEP is a hybrid solution that includes a combination of technologies such as battery, carbon sequestration, solar and trigeneration – whichever are best suited to the particular site.
OOM Energy
The OOM unit is really interesting and unique. Right now, it runs on natural gas; and while not completely a green energy source, gas does have a lower carbon footprint. Clydesdale said the system can be modified to include greener energy as it develops and becomes more affordable. As a matter of fact, he says solar panels and hydrogen is going to be the future.
Here's what is different about the OOM unit: It only delivers electricity when it is needed, while power lines delivering electricity have to be constantly running. OOM uses artificial intelligence to calculate a building's power requirements, so "its customers only get what they need," Clydesdale said.
Right now, the OOM units are being sold to organizations and businesses with large power demands, as well as high-rise apartments and multi-residential units. Businesses that use the Dedicated Energy System (DES) are in complete control of the amount of power generated and benefit from significantly reduced costs.
Interior of the power-generating unit located outside the arena.
Interior of the power-generating unit located outside the arena.
OOM Energy
Stoneridge Ice Centre, formerly known as the Wave Twin Rinks, in Burlington, Ont., became the first arena in North America to adopt OOM's new technology. The arena's system is a dedicated power plant in a box which includes the generators, a glycol cooling system, overhead exhaust system, radiator, heat-exchange system, and a roof-mounted fan evaporator. It is CSA and TSSA- compliant.