Why the Grid will Die

The electric power grid will disappear at some point in the near future because it simply makes no sense. The grid exists today only because it is cost prohibitive for the vast majority of individuals, families and businesses to generate their own electricity.

Portable futuristic energy generator

If Andrea Rossi or some other inventor succeeds in creating a working Low Energy Nuclear Reaction process it will become economical for most families, individuals and businesses to generate their own electricity. Indeed it would quickly become both uneconomical and irrational for families and businesses not to generate their own electricity.

 

Why would people or businesses pay large amounts of money to be dependent upon an infrastructure that is inherently unreliable if there were a cheap and viable alternative? We have already seen something very similar happen to the phone system, vast numbers of people have dumped landlines for more versatile, often more reliable and cheaper cellular service.

 

The electric power grid is actually very unreliable; we saw much of the entire nation of Japan (the world’s most advanced) shut down because a few power plants went offline because of the Tsunami earlier this year. Electric power service in many areas of the United States is regularly knocked out by wind, snow, ice storms, floods, lightning and a host of other weather problems. This doesn’t get into the dangers of terrorism, sabotage, power shortages and simple equipment failure.

 

Now if you were a large grocer like Kroger’s which has hundreds of stores with refrigerators and freezers full of food that you spent tens of millions of dollars upon wouldn’t you jump at the chance to generate your own electricity at each store. Of course you would. You would want to guarantee a steady of supply of electricity to keep those refrigerators and freezers running and that food in a sellable condition. I also imagine that Kroger’s would like to keep its stores open and making money when the power is out.

 

The reason Kroger’s does not make its own electricity at each of stores is the high cost of fuel for generators. Generators themselves are actually a pretty cheap and reliable technology. The only thing stopping most businesses from switching to generating their own electricity is fuel costs. If that disappears expect businesses led by large retailers and factories to quickly switch to generating their own electricity.

Bloombox energy servers at a California Wal-Mart courtesy Bloom Energy

Once something like Rossi’s e-cat hits the market – big retailers such as Kroger will quickly adopt it. Wal-Mart has already emerged as a major customer for a generator or energy server called the Bloombox. Other businesses that need electricity 24/7 such as server farms, internet providers, the phone company, telecoms, TV stations, radio stations, nursing homes, medical clinics etc. will quickly follow suit because it makes sense. Google which is now one of the biggest users of power is constantly searching for new sources of electricity because it needs to keep its search engine running 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Or take transportation systems, in cities like Denver the transit system buys electricity from the grid to run its light rail and commuter trains. It won’t take the RTD in Denver or the MTA in New York long to realize that they can save a fortune and make their services more dependable by generating their own power via e-cat. Expect electric powered trolley, light rail, subway, commuter train and trolley bus systems to be greatly expanded once something like e-cat becomes available.

 

It won’t take families long to see the same logic as these businesses. They’ll ask themselves: “why should I be shivering in the dark every time a tree limb falls on a power line? If I hook up that e-cat thing I’ll be warm and able to watch TV or work in my home office.” Home office workers will be among the first to make the switch because their businesses are computer dependent so they need a constant power supply.

 

Seriously I do not see how the power grid and the utilities that run it could complete with something like e-cat. That being said the grid will still be around for years to come for a variety of reasons. Like the telephone network it will either slowly disappear or evolve into something else. One strong possibility is that the grid’s power will come from home and business generators rather than power plants at some point in the future. This would certainly be cheaper and more practical than giant power plants.

5 Responses to Why the Grid will Die

  • Jay says:

    I don’t foresee the demise of the electric power grid because of the economy of scale that it leverages. Have you priced steam turbines? The ones that approach 50% efficiency are quite expensive. In urban areas, especially, it makes much more sense for one provider buy a big, efficient one and distribute the electric power via a grid than it does for each individual user buy one small one separately. Many people may not want the trouble and expense of maintaining their own power generating system also. For an isolated rural home the economics may favor individual power generation, but for urban areas the grid is here to stay, I think.

    • jennifer says:

      The economy of scale is relative. Much of it comes from heavy taxpayer subsides and monopolies it commands when those disappear that vanishes. Even in cities it is possible. Note part of the economy of scale comes from the way big electricity customers subsidize everybody else. Many bigger customers will unplug first which could hurt the little guy. Other factors that affect the grid are reliability (which is actually more important than cost and efficiency) and control. A lot of it will depend on the cost of the generatosr and their reliability. Another interesting factor is that the law in the United States mandates the gird has to buy power generated by home owners. It might be more cost effective and sensible for the grid to run off lots of networked small generators than a few big ones. Also less vulnerable.

  • Jay I see your point when there is a choice involved, how about when something happens to cause power to go off and then our food spoils.

  • jennifer says:

    Any possibility of a translation of this?