Harry's List Architect the future

repowering america

Currently, our power grid is operated by people.  Mechanical switches.  Telephones.  Blackouts are unknown until someone calls it in.  The sources of our power are centrally located, single locations providing power to vast territories.  Having such serious power centrally located is extremely dangerous.

The recent major blackouts on the East Coast and Silicon Valley in the West Coast of the United States are examples of how this system is reaching its maximum capacity and is failing on us.

President Obama has called for an overhaul of our grid and a transition to an automated, widely distributed energy delivery system.  In this system the electricity will flow both ways.  Allow me to explain why this is important and how it works.

Normally our power system operates fine, but there are days with peak demand.  Recall those sweltering summer days when everyone and their dog is cranking up the A/C.  The way electricity in our grid works is that it has to be spent after it is produced.  Stored energy does not work with our grid.  (this will not always be the case!)  On these days with peak demand, extra power plants have to be activated, workers paid overtime, and there is no reliable way to predict when these days will pop up.

Now imagine that your neighbor has solar panels on his roof and has a hydro-electric operation running off the river bordering your properties.  Surely he will be using at least all of the power from his solar panels, but what about the water based power plant?  Your neighbor is auctioning off the extra power that is generated to current buyers.  The people receiving this power do not need to be physically located close to the power source, the electricity can be great distances at minimal cost.

On a larger level, there will likely be massive solar plants constructed as soon as the technology becomes sufficiently efficient.  These, along with wind, and hopefully nuclear plants will provide the foundation for our energy.  These will be supplemented by the independent operations on a local level.  If any source needs additional electricity it will be automatically routed.

So everyone can get electricity from one another.  What’s so great about this?  Well, these de-centralized power together make up a new power grid.  This new grid could provide the opportunity for nationwide use of plug-in vehicles by seamlessly integrating renewable energy resources.

With this smart-grid there will never be overloads or shortages, thanks to borrowed power.  This scalable system is incredibly efficient and will never fail to meet consumer demand.

What is the smart grid?  Digitizing, organizing, analyzing, and streamlinging the relay of electricity from producers to consumers.  There are many opponents of this, claiming that the new grid will open us up to a new array of terrorists on the digital front; they claim that the newer, more reliable power will be more expensive.

What are your feelings on the smart grid?  Are you afraid of the massive inter-connectedness that is eminent, or are you ecstatic like myself?

Further Reading:

The Smart Grid: An Introduction - US Department of Energy
Smart grid - Wikipedia