May 21, 2006

Creating a Decentralized Energy Network

In July 2005 the London offices of Greenpeace published a report that argues for a decentralised energy (DE) system to replace the current centralized UK electrical grid. Instead of a centralized plant supplying all the power distributed one-way to the community, the DE system enables the user buildings to provide power (from solar panels, wind turbines or cogeneration units) back to a "smart" local energy network. To be sure, the local energy network would provide close to the user demand for energy, but the primary benefits would be better conservation of energy, less energy loss through transmission, and decentralized generation from new sources of energy.

Distributed energy generation concepts have been addressed by Barry J. Hanson in his book Energy Power Shift. It is my contention that these concepts apply to decentralized production of liquid fuels as well as electricity.

Excerpts from the Greenpeace report are below:


published by Greenpeace UK

To summarise, overhauling our outdated electricity infrastructure and pursuing a decentralised pathway would enable the UK to:
• slash CO2 emissions
• bring down energy consumption levels
• deliver enhanced energy security
• drive technological innovation and real competition in UK energy markets
• foster the inherent economic advantage of renewable technologies
• save consumers money in the longer term
• increase public involvement in tackling climate change
• increase opportunities for local political leadership in the energy sector
• reduce the influence of vested interests
• incubate and export technologies which are safe for global dissemination and urgently required for international development.

‘Transforming today’s centralised, dumb power grid into something closer to a smart distributed network will be necessary to provide a reliable power supply – and to make possible innovative new energy services.’
The Economist Technology Quarterly

‘DE presents a unique opportunity to help developing countries progress towards the provision of clean, affordable, reliable energy, towards economic growth and poverty alleviation.’
Dominique Lallement, World Bank, 2001

‘Distributed generation at many locations around the grid increases power reliability and quality while reducing the strain on the electricity system. It also makes our electricity infrastructure less vulnerable to terrorist attack, both by distributing the generation and by diversifying the generation fuels.’
David Garman, US Assistant Secretary of Energy

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