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Are small local energy grids the future of energy?

Do you believe that with new, more sustainable sources of energy that we will see more and more communities start to create their own local energy grids rather that depending on large energy companies to supply them with power? Do you think it is possible for alternative energy sources to supply these communities with enough power? What are some of the obstacles that are preventing this from taking place?

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    Dec 1 2012: I truly believe that rather having a centralized system of producing and distributing energy is full of flaws, future will be full of local production and consumption of energy. Lots of companies and organizations are working over this.
    Just a couple of days ago I saw Honda Motors working on such a project and that seems to be pretty interesting, and that gave me an idea that when system is centralized the problem associated with it also more. 1 small fault in system can leads to great damage over the entire city (usually happens in rural India, people suffer from shortage of electricity). Thus rather than having a mass production and centralized system each house/entity should produce its on energy and should be connected with atleast 5 entities nearby. So that they can share the energy.
    Earlier because of lack of science it was hard to produce energy and their were less methods to do so. But as the world comes in modern era lots of alternative energy sources are being discovered. Hence rather than making mass production of energy (it even cost much) 5 -10 house are put into a group they produce energy of themselves and also share energy among that group.
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    Dec 1 2012: Replacing the grid is not a solution. Supplying into the grid is. All power companies are synchronized. As one increases output, others simultaneously decrease in output. With many small power sources feeding into the grid, large power sources can reduce their output as small power companies pick up the load. That was the idea behind deregulation of electrical energy, induce many small companies to come up with a better way.

    One problem that may occur is regulation of voltage and frequency. Large power companies have control over the grid because they are stable. Many small companies, particularly those who's outputs are not stable, create fluctuations that can reduce power quality. There are many systems that are sensitive to fluctuations in voltage and frequency which makes the problem a major issue. However, that problem is being solved with new technologies.

    The advantage of the grid is that loss of one power source does not interfere with the continuation of power, the other sources pick up the balance. That is why we can go for so long without power outages. It usually takes a major storm or natural disaster to interrupt power with a good functioning grid.

    Of course, there is nothing stopping you from creating your own power system and cutting yourself off from the grid. You can create an automated monitoring system that will call yourself when the power goes out. There are people doing that today, only you have to be pretty savvy if you are to be successful at it. Otherwise, you won't have much time doing anything else.
  • Nov 22 2012: "Are small local energy grids the future of energy?"

    No, larger grids (up to a point) are more efficient and centralized power plants (fusion plants, solar arrays) will always continue to exist to power urban and industrial centers.
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    Nov 22 2012: No. Gavin you do not tell us where you live and that would help in the answer. I am from the US and will reply only as I see it here in my area. I live within three miles of a power plant that will shut down in the next year or so because the current administration is implementing the Cap and Trade Laws that makes it impossiable to operate the power plant. There is no plan to replace the power that will be lost on the grid upon closure. There are three plants within 100 miles and all three will be closing. The price of KWh will rise greatly as demand will soon out weigh supply.

    The cost of generating local power is prohibative. There have been many meetings and the EPA representative has stated that the matter is political and he has no control over the situation.

    The idea that closures will occur without consideration of the loss to the grid is insane. The EPA agrees that there will be problems including brown out and blackouts and that cost will jump dynamically but "his hands are tied".

    If you find a answer we will be needing it in the US very soon. You may want to write me a letter as there may not be power for the PC ... oops the Post Office is going broke also so maybe no mail .... Do you happen to have a carrier pidgeon ... oops farmers are going broke and pidgeon meat may become a stable after UN Article 21 is employed ... rats ... at least I still have my health ... oops Obamacare is coming and I am in line (at the age of 70) for a meeting with the death panel ... Guess energy grids are not that important after all.

    The late Bob
    • Nov 22 2012: US environmental regulations are a joke compared to many other nations, if American companies can't operate a power plant and make a profit they're doing something wrong. No, the truth is natural gas and renewables are taking over the scene and yes, that may (I emphasize "may") raise the price of power slightly but power is ridiculously cheap in the US anyway, maybe that's why half of it gets wasted (the US uses twice as much power per capita as European countries with a similar standard of living), plus you'll get cleaner air and less of your taxes will go to coal subsidies and health care for people with repiratory diseases and lung cancer.
  • Nov 20 2012: Until we can figure out how to STORE electricity in a form that allows high, on-demand release, we are stuck with building larger and larger 'grids'.
    The main problem is that there is no money to be made in storing energy, only it seems in generating ang "transporting" it to its end user.
    Keep in mind that currently, ALL of the electricity we currently use was generated only a few micro-seconds ago.
  • Nov 20 2012: What about a mixed solujtikon?