Thursday, June 11, 2009

Smart grid. Stupid grid.

NewScientist on a mismatch between sources of renewable energy and the existing grid:

Fears over energy security and climate change have led to record investment in renewable energy. But a major problem threatens to stall progress towards a more sustainable future: national electricity grids are far from ready to cope with the unreliable output from the new technologies.
If energy generation doesn't match energy use, power cuts or overload is the result.
The best solution suggested so far is a concept known as the "virtual power plant", says Lang. Each virtual plant consists of several hundred or thousand microgenerators lumped together in cyberspace into a unit comparable to that of a large power station.

Looks like a pretty lousy solution to me. It requires aggregation and shuffling of electricity over significant distances. Storing and re-distributing locally would make much more economic sense.

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