Have you ever wondered where your electricity comes from? 

You may live close to a power plant or a wind park, but that doesn’t mean your electricity comes from it. In fact, your electricity could come from as far as another state. 

Through its renewable energy grid integration portfolio, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is examining the concept of an energyshed, which has been referred to as an “area in which all power consumed within it is supplied within it.”[1] In contrast, a large portion of electricity​ using renewable sources is derived from other locations. EERE is looking at how locally generated renewable energy sources can offer communities energy independence, security, and resilience.

To better understand an energyshed, consider a watershed. A watershed is a defined geographical area that contains a set of water sources that drain into a common outlet, such as a large river, lake, or ocean. Consumers who draw on water resources within a watershed are affected by the flow, capture, storage, and release of water. Similar to the idea of a watershed, an energyshed looks at how power is created and consumed within a specific area. 

A number of similarities between the delivery of water and electricity evolved over the last 100 years. As the need for water and electricity grew in the 20th century, water and electric utilities greatly expanded in scale, delivering resources long distances through extensive networks to large population centers. Sometimes the search for water sources and increasing demand led water utilities to search beyond their watersheds. Likewise, needing larger infrastructure footprints to meet electricity demand, electric utilities grew and sited operations where land was available, even if that meant moving further from demand centers.  

Moving into the 21st century, with an interest in resiliency and utilizing resources closer to home, many communities are investigating how to reuse and capture more locally derived water to improve efficiency, decrease their dependence on water transported from long distances, and use less. An energyshed follows a similar theme, enabling understanding of an area’s energy generation—where it comes from geographically, as well as what type of resources are used and if there are opportunities to derive energy sources locally. Understanding the implications of implementing an energyshed management system may lead to a more efficient and resilient power system. 

EERE is organizing a workshop July 13-14, 2021, to obtain feedback on the concept of an energyshed and energyshed management system. For more information on this effort, please email: energyshed@ee.doe.gov.


[1] Energyshed Framework: Defining and Designing the Fundamental Land Unit of Renewable Energy, John C Evarts.

Alejandro Moreno
Alejandro Moreno is the Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
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