Looking for new ways to reduce your electricity bills? The Department of Energy is on the job. The agency is sponsoring research that could help decentralize the nation's electrical grid – instead of powering your electrical work from large generating stations, you could create your own electricity on-site by burning natural gas. As a bonus, the equipment could provide homeowners with heat energy as well. Read on to learn more about the Energy Department's program to spur the development of small generator technologies.

Advanced Electrical Work for Your Home

The projects are part of the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which is spending $55 million to support research and development into various technologies that could strengthen the flexibility, dynamism and independence of the nation's energy production system. The generator-related programs, known as GENSETS, or GENerators for Small Electrical and Thermal Systems, are receiving $25 million of the funding.

In addition to the GENSETS projects, the Energy Department is also sponsoring a program called Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA), aimed at developing biofuels.

“The GENSETS and TERRA programs demonstrate ARPA-E’s unique approach to developing innovative ideas to advance energy technologies,” ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams said in a statement. “ARPA-E is pushing the boundaries of current energy technologies to create a more secure, sustainable and affordable American energy future.”

Waste Not, Want Not for Excess Heat

The GENSETS technologies being developed are similar to microtrigeneration systems, which use natural gas to create electricity and capture excess heat for hot water and general home heating. With one of these systems, you'd still have a gas bill to pay – but if you combined your equipment with rooftop solar panels, you could reduce the cost of powering your home electrical work to a minimum.

The generator technology already exists and has been deployed to a certain extent, but the Energy Department program hopes to further refine the devices and make them more efficient, reliable and affordable. Twelve different teams are working on generator projects to take the equipment as far as it can go to meet the needs of the homeowners of today and tomorrow, focusing variously on internal combustion engines, Stirling engines, micro-turbines and solid state devices. One technology could end up being a clear leader and push the others out of the field, or multiple engine types could be competitive and give consumers a choice in their home electrical generation system.

A Glimpse into the Future of Electricity

If you have any questions about how the Department of Energy ARPA-E program could affect your electrical work, contact a qualified electrician today.

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