In a while we don’t need the large centralized utility factories anymore:
From Superstorm Sandy, to Lloyd’s recent report on the potential for major system damage due to geomagnetic storms, to cyber-attacks on utilities and the grid (such as the one that hit San Jose earlier this year), the last twelve months have brought a redoubled focus to the fragility of the U.S. electric grid. That demonstrated fragility has provided a stark reminder that while the U.S. pioneered the advance into the electrical age, our systems are therefore among the oldest on the planet. Our performance is indicative of a failing network — a Galvin Electricity Initiative report found the U.S. grid experienced triple the frequency and ten times the duration of system interruptions compared to places such as Germany and Denmark.
Whether through physical decline, natural catastrophe, or misguided malice, our grid is subject to increasing threats that can and will lead to more frequent failure. Meanwhile, our centralized architecture, which is largely based on hub-and-spoke generation and transmission, only adds to the brittleness of the system.