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Friday, January 09, 2015

Grid Defection Looms

Terry Tamminen writes that it's Time to cut the cord on global power grid:
Think how quickly we evolved from landline phones, that took weeks to install, to cellphones that take a few minutes to buy and activate. Some of the same dynamics are about to force traditional energy utilities and grids to cut the cord and evolve to a 21st century customer-driven distributed energy market. Here is a summary of the why-what-when for cutting the old-school cord.
Do a Google search for "power outages" and there's never a day that goes by without one, somewhere in the world. In early November 2014, for example, 13,500 homes lost power to a storm in eastern Massachusetts at the same time that Bangladesh suffered a nationwide blackout when its grid experienced a "technical glitch."
Then there's the true cost of massive power plants connected to aging grids. Take nuclear power, for example. According to one UN report, some 80 nuclear power reactors will have lived their useful lives and need to be decommissioned in the next ten years. One reactor creates an average of 566,400 tons of radioactive waste and the average costs of decommissioning in the U.S. is about $500 million or up to 15 percent of the initial capital cost. In France, decommissioning their smaller reactors costs closer to 59 per cent of the reactor's initial cost. Add to this the risks and costs of disasters such as Fukushima, Japan at $100 billion and Chernobyl at $15 billion of direct loss plus an estimated $235 billion for Ukraine and %201 billion for Belarus in the thirty years since, and it's clear that something needs to change.
He's talking grid defection:
Change doesn't always happen swiftly or smoothly, but in a world where people want more control over their entertainment, communication, and transportation, utilities that rely on operating a grid for profits may want to observe those precedents, then follow the old Apple slogan and start to "think different" in 2015.