Attention Greens and Geeks: Time for an Energy Revolution

by on April 17, 2009 · 7 comments

Earth Day is fast approaching, yet despite the awareness this day brings, most people are powering their computers with electricity from coal-burning power plants, delivered by “dumb” networks. Change is long overdue, and it’s not a difficult matter.

The electricity grid’s basic structure hasn’t changed much since Thomas Edison came up with the idea back in 1882. That’s a long time with little innovation, especially since electricity demands continue to rise. Some might argue that the grid didn’t need changes and it’s not wise to mess with a system already working. That argument no longer holds, anyone who lives in California’s Silicon Valley knows. Blackouts and shortages are a constant worry every summer and the grid is unable to properly handle newer and cleaner sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Worse, when a blackout does happen, the utility company usually doesn’t know until someone phones in the problem. That’s because the system can’t sense the problem — it is “dumb” and only sends inputs one way. So how come the grid isn’t smarter, and what can we do about it? The answer is not as complicated as one might imagine.

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Read more here.

  • Allen

    “the grid is unable to properly handle newer and cleaner sources of energy such as solar and wind”

    Is it the grid that can't handle them or the can't handle providing energy via the grid?

  • http://srynas.blogspot.com/ Steve R.

    Regretfully this article is “blowing smoke” and lacks any real analysis of how our electrical grid become deficient. This article seems to be based the sentence that “PG&E needs approval from the government just to buy from a new and cleaner power source.” Somehow this illogically assertion morphs into the concept that government control has resulted in an archaic electrical grid.

    Who you buy your electricity from is a separate issue from having an functioning innovative electrical grid. The whole purpose of this article is to somehow imply that the government created this problem. Maybe government shares some blame in the state of our electrical grid, but the absolute glaring oversight of this article concerns the power plant managers. It is the responsibility of the power plant operators, not the government to operate the plants. It appears that Sonia's is simply attempting to find fault with the government, while overlooking the possibility that the power plant managers are at fault for the failure to design a proper grid.

    We live in a rural area, where the power goes out routinely. The back-up systems have worked. When power was cut-off as a result of hurricanes the power was quickly restored. So I am thinking that Sonia's claim that the utility companies don't know what is going on is way overblown and without merit. Not only that, but Sonia has failed to discuss the fiasco of deregulation that allowed Enron to almost destroy our electrical distribution system.

    Please note, I have not extensively studied the problems with our grid so my credibility is no better than Sonia's. However, I did undertake a quick internet search, and here is one article that I picked more or less at random. The U. S. electric grid: will it be our undoing? by Gail E. Tverberg. This article provides much more credible analysis than Sonia's post.

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