The Grid of Grids: Doing for Electricity What the Internet Did for Information

Brian Patterson


Over one sextillion watt hours of electricity is consumed around the world annually - mostly produced and distributed on demand using 100-year-old technology. There are less than 10,000 central power plants producing most of this electricity. A primary reliance on this centralized production has left us with increasingly troublesome issues of significant environmental impact, transmission losses, geographic social and economic inequities, and the increasing vulnerability of exposed and unsecured lines to natural and man-caused disaster damage. In addition, historically, most power systems simply feed "dumb" loads from hard wired fixed physical grids. But an increasing focus on clean, fault tolerant, resilient, economical, and efficient energy use is leading to us to consider transforming these systems to significantly more interactive ones with the capability of intelligent load management, storage, decentralized mesh wiring topologies and the employment of an increasingly diverse set of combined clean generation sources. This presentation discusses an expanded role for interconnected distributed renewable energy microgrids in new mesh networks, based on hybrid use of AC and DC power. It is posited that connecting power creation to power consumption in a network of massively distributed microgrids will yield the analogous capability of an 'Enernet' or electric energy network to power fixed and mobile loads in the 21st century. The presentation will also introduce the concept of a transactive energy framework used to enable a combination of economic and control techniques to manage power flows within the network to optimize operations and commerce within a multi-tiered arrangement of both public and private microgrids and macrogrids in a Grid-of-Grids topology.

Speaker Bio

Brian T. Patterson is Chairman and co-founder of the EMerge Alliance. He is a 40 plus year veteran of the electrical and electronics industry, has an extensive technical and work history in electronics, fiber optics and building electrical systems technologies and holds multiple patents in those fields. He is currently Managing Director of B. L. Coliker Associates, a market and technology consulting firm. Prior positions include General Manager at Armstrong World Industries, Director of AMP Incorporated’s Fiber Optic Business, and President of an Electronic Interconnect Division of Kollmorgen Corporation. He is the US National Council International Electrotechnical Commission’s technical advisor to the System Evaluation Group on Low Voltage (under 1500V) Direct Current. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association, the IEEE Power and Energy Society, the Continental Automated Buildings Association, the Power Supply Manufacturer’s Association, and the UL/NEMA/EMerge ad hoc NFPA National Electrical Code task group on DC power. Mr. Patterson is also past chairman of the NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Panel Distributed Renewable Generation and Storage Distributed Energy Work Group Microgrid Subgroup. Patterson has been a featured speaker at: US Green Building Council International, LightFair International, American Institute of Architect, Applied Power Electronics, International Telecommunications Energy, International Electrotechnical Commission, International Facility Management Association, the Smart Energy Power Association and Solar Energy Industry Association’s Annual Solar Power International Smart Energy Week and numerous other national and international industry, government and academic forums. He is a professionally accredited course author and instructor for the American Institute of Architects, the US Green Building Council, and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. He has also authored articles for major industry and professional trade magazines and is the official spokesperson of the EMerge Alliance.