Using Microbreweries to Explain Grid Modernization

By Sean Morash

Energy consultants tend to have a hard time relating to normal people. Maybe that’s because we’re engineers at heart, or maybe it’s because we get too involved in our hyper-specific focus area and lose track of the general knowledge of everyday people. Somewhere along the way, things that are taken for granted by someone who studies grid modernization are nuanced enough to give a layman pause. This inability to maintain context, tantamount to a billionaire’s inability to list the price of a gallon of milk, makes articulating the really technical concepts all the more difficult. With that context and the help of one of the great uniting forces in our world, the simple analogy below should help folks understand the current paradigm shift that the energy world is experiencing.

Microbreweries and brew pubs produce small amounts of beer, typically much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries (Up to 15,000 barrels of beer per year for a microbrewery compared to 6 million for a large brewery), and are unique in part because of their location and regional ingredients. The future of beer is most likely this smaller-scale supplier catering to the taste of local customers.

Residential solar arrays produce small amounts of electricity, typically much smaller than traditional utility power plants, and are unique in part because of their location, varying size, and quantity of installations. The future of the electricity system is this smaller-scale, quickly installed generation model.