Renewables to spark U.S. grid revolution

April 17, 2009

John Kemp Great DebateGrowing power consumption and the U.S. administration’s plan to rely more heavily on renewable generation sources will increase the demand on America’s already overloaded electricity grid and require major investment in transmission and distribution networks.

Upgrading power transmission and distribution systems is likely to cost as much as installing new generating capacity over the next 20 years.

While Congress provided an extra $4.5 billion of funding for grid improvements in the recent fiscal stimulus, federal loan guarantees and other support, far more investment will be needed if the administration’s targets for renewable generation are to be realized.

In its “Annual Energy Outlook 2009″ (AEO2009), the Energy Information Administration projects consumption will increase by 1,000 billion kilowatt hours (26 percent) between 2007 and 2030. The United States will need to install 259 gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity to replace aging generators taken out of service (30 GW) and meet increased demand on the system (229 GW).

A report prepared for the Edison Foundation by consultants Brattle Group last year put the capital cost of capacity installation at between $500 billion and $1 trillion (depending on how much of the total is met by cheap sources such as coal and gas and how much by expensive sources such as nuclear, wind and solar). Click here for PDF.

AEO2009 projects that most of the added generating capacity will be from conventional sources such as natural gas (53 percent), coal (18 percent) and nuclear (5 percent). But a substantial proportion will come from renewables (22 percent), raising the share of renewable power in total generation from 8 percent in 2007 (much of it from hydro dams) to as much as 13 percent in 2030.

The biggest additional contribution will come from the combustion of biomass waste products left over from increased production of ethanol to meet the federal government’s ambitious targets. The other major contribution will come from wind. Solar is likely to make a marginal contribution in the timeframe owing to high cost.

Biomass generators can be used in the same way as conventional power sources like gas and oil since the technology is identical (combustion to raise steam). The amount of power can be scheduled (“despatched”) to meet demand in exactly the same way as a conventional power plant.

Wind and solar present greater challenges because they cannot be scheduled with precision. As the percentage of power drawn from these non-despatchable sources increases, it will pose unique challenges for grid managers and require a substantial reconfiguration of the system.

Reconfiguring the grid to handle increased demand and a greater share of renewables will impose substantial costs. The Brattle Group report estimated the industry would need to spend as much upgrading the high-voltage long-distance transmission system ($300 billion) and lower-voltage local distribution networks ($600 billion) as it will on increased generating capacity.

GRID MANAGEMENT

Electricity supply is a relatively simple system in which power is supplied from generators to household and industrial appliances (“loads”) via the transmission and distribution network. But unlike other commodities, storing electricity is impractical, and supply and demand must balance continuously.

In response to short-term supply and demand fluctuations, system controllers employ a variety of techniques to ensure continuous balance between generation and load. In response to an unexpected increase in demand or loss of supply (caused by a generator tripping) the grid is rebalanced by a multi-tiered process:

– In the first instance, shortfalls are met by drawing a small quantity of additional energy from each of the remaining generating units on the grid. But while this automatic response provides compensating power for several seconds, it causes generating units to lose momentum and electrical frequency to decline across the grid.

– In the second stage, loss of frequency is sensed by governors attached to each generating unit on the grid causing them to deliver more fuel to the turbines, re-accelerating the generators. Producers are paid a fee to operate at slightly below full capacity to provide these frequency reserves, which are available within as little as 10 seconds and last up to 30 minutes.

– Beyond frequency reserves, the grid can call on “standing reserves”, typically gas-fired peaking plants held on stand-by that can be started rapidly and begin delivering extra power within 20 minutes.

All these responses focus on generation. But in the last resort the grid can begin “load shedding” (cutting off the power to some users to limit the demand on the system). Traditionally, certain industrial users receive power on “interruptable” contracts that allow the grid operators to instruct them to reduce their usage by a specified amount during an emergency.

In future, the industry hopes to develop dynamic demand control (DDC) systems allowing the grid to “defer” less sensitive loads (particularly refrigeration, air-conditioning and heating) by switching them off for a few seconds or even minutes at a time until more standing reserves can be brought online.

DDC would be triggered either by fitting appliances with their own frequency-sensitive governors or installing some two-way communications system.

INCORPORATING RENEWABLES

While loads from individual appliances are very variable and impossible to forecast, aggregate load from millions of appliances linked to the grid is much more predictable over a 24 hour cycle. In effect, the law of large numbers and grid interconnectedness help smooth the demand profile and make supply management possible.

In the same way, generation from individual wind turbines and solar units fluctuates significantly, but power availability becomes more stable if many different types of renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass) are connected to the grid at many different locations: strong sunlight and solar generation in the Mojave desert can make up for power lost when the wind stops blowing in Kansas.

Problems posed by variable power output from renewables can be managed in exactly the same way as variations in load or accidental loss of generating supply.

But as the percentage of renewable generation increases, so do potential imbalances. More renewables such as wind and solar will require more conventional (gas, coal and biomass) generating capacity to be held in frequency and standing reserve (potentially reducing efficiency and increasing cost).

Renewables proponents want to move away from the traditional power-on-demand model to one in which demand as well as supply is managed dynamically. If load as well as generation can be scheduled, via “smart grids” and other control techniques, the amount of generating capacity held in costly reserve could be reduced.

Increasing renewables will also put a premium on long-distance transmission capacity so shortfalls in generation in one region can be made up from increased output in other areas. But the U.S. power grid grew up piecemeal and is plagued by bottlenecks. In particular, there are limited interconnections between the eastern and western United States across the Rocky Mountains, and between Texas and the rest of the country.

Bottlenecks are already causing reliability problems, which will worsen as the percentage of renewables increases unless grid capacity is upgraded.

The fiscal stimulus approved earlier this year directed the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to help increase transmission capacity across the Rockies and with Texas. But grid management will have to undergo a revolution if the share of renewables is to be raised significantly without an adverse impact on reliability.

Much more investment, and more federal government support through direct funding, loan guarantees or favorable charging regimes will be needed if the renewables aspiration is to be made a reality.

27 comments

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Please do consider decentralized combined heat and power generation. Every place that now uses gas or diesel for heating can produce the heat + the electricity to optimise the efficiency.

Your opinion “More renewables such as wind and solar will require more conventional (gas, coal and biomass) generating capacity.” is irritating.
Biomass ist not conventional but renewable! Intelligently combined systems, including grid management can adjust the biomass plants to current need. This will use more than 80% of the energy of the substance instead of max 40% of conventional e.g. coal power plants.
Biomass chp plants are the perfect completion for wind and photovoltaics – reducing the load for long distance electricity nets.

Jörg Dürre
Biomotor

Interesting article and it looks like no one is interested.

Perhaps you overlook the mitigating influence of an older and perhaps less “mall” oriented, less personal consumption driven and acquisitive, quite possibly – (probably?)less affluent, aging boomer generation. Many of us when younger – claimed we weren’t driven by “materialism” and “plastic” culture: millions of tons of which seem to be drifting to the middle of the oceans.

You don’t mention that a substantial number of us in the future may not have the affluence to indulge is mass quantities. We may have a little wisdom now and can afford to – are in fact happy with a less product driven and more contemplative lifestyle. We may not in fact want the power or the products. And the power we use that powere in so much more efficient ways.

During a power outage early this winter – we endured almost seven days of non grid living and didn’t suffer inordinatly. It ceratinly wasn’t Baghdad or the Gaza strip. In a way, days like that could be looked at as vacations and chances to live alternate lifesttyles. Older, more like the “old days” adventures even. I was even reading a book on the evolution of modern household comfort. I lit with candles and oil lamps, read by candle or desk lamp and had a small power generator to keep the computer going. To read your articles. I live alone and it wasn’t a great loss. The town didn’t shut down and small business went on as usual with some inconvienience. But the noise generated got much highre and was a new blight on a normally quiet trural area.

WE do not have to automatically draw heavily on the grid. WE aren’t all sheep in a pen blindly, even greedily, jostling for access to the grid. We may choose to put a less personal strain on the grid.

I take what I need and I give what I can. I would like to give more an some economic recovery will restore some lost productivity. I do not have to live like a selfish pig, nor do I have to live misserably, because I modulate my own appetite as intelligently as I can, at least I hope I am. So many older perople shed loads. Why wouldn’t that effect the loads required of the grid?

Whee! My favorite subject! Jorg (I don’t know how to make the diacritical mark) has a great point about combined heat and power (cogeneration) from biomass combustion. More often people talk about natural gas, which releases fossil CO2. And you can use a huge tank of water to store the heat, so you’ve got some choice about what time of day you generate. But at a given time of year in your locale, over the course of a day, you’re likely to need a given amount of heat, whether anybody wants the concommittant power or not. This gives cogeneration, certainly a very valuable technology, some of the cantankerous nature of wind power. (They’ll probably want the power because you can sell it cheaply because it’s cogenerated, but they’ll be idling other generation to match your contribution, and on a warm day when you’re not heating much, they’ll still need that generation.)

The variable nature of wind power (and to a degree solar power) is frightening, but mainly to people who aren’t properly terrified of global warming. When you have a choice between bad and worse, you choose bad.

I’m starting to see people in the industry working on high-speed flywheels and batteries to smooth out limited reductions in wind power. I don’t know how far they’re going to get to start with, but they’re in motion.

Nuclear plants (ick!) are a possibility for reserves, since we’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels.

Paul went on a bit, but I think he’d agree with one thing: part of the answer, in the medium term, may be accepting the slight risk of very serious shortages, where the smart grid turns off most of your appliances because you’ve previously said that you’re not willing to pay more than $2/kWh (or as you may prefer, $1 in any hour). One estimate of savings to an institutional customer from demand side management is 10% of the monthly bill. A lot of people might appreciate that savings. Maybe all this bothers you. We already have another solution; it’s called a blackout.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

Massive upgrades the to power grid are only necessary if we are keeping the same centralized power paradigm. Decentralizing power generation makes the entire power network more robust and secure. Renewables where available and self-contained small power generators like STARR developed by Livermore for those areas without a good local source of renewables.

Posted by Waubay | Report as abusive

Any pointers to info on STARR? It didn’t seem to search up on LLNL.gov.

Rather than burn more fuel here in my big city in cloudy New England, I like our transmission lines to huge wind farms. Is that a mistake?

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

Smart grid on the face of it sounds great… until the onion is peeled.

Some commenters cite the fact that load growth may not continue as lifestyles change and the process of de-industrialization continues (will the loads in Michigan or Wall Street ever return?). This is a very real issue — unless you think the late 90s and early 00s are soon to return.

Issues related to Demand Side Management (conservation) have never been adequately addressed by the US. There are too many electric powered gadgets that simply consume too much or consume while they are “off”. Why are there not strict regulations outlawing televisions that consume 70 watts while “off” or personal computers which never go to sleep? Housing consumes huge amount of energy — much of it wasted. When do we get serious building code that address wasteful designs?

Earlier this week the FT Lex column stated that US electric utility capital expenditures doubled between 2004 and 2008, which is impressive. What is discussed in this column is doubling or quadrupling again. How is that going to be paid for? The DOE can provide grants and Fed can print money, but ultimately the costs get put into the rate base. There has to be genuine productive capacity and income to pay for all this stuff.

Finally, smart grid requires smart people to set it up and maintain it. The age profile of most electric utilities is like a bar-bell. A lot of gray hair and a few 20-somethings and not a whole lot in between. Many utilities have recently had layoffs and buyouts. Designing, building and maintaining a smart grid would require thousands of experienced engineers and tradesmen. How many universities even off power systems engineering and how has enrollment held up (answers: few and not good)?

IMO, “smart grid” is a concoction of the multi-nationals which sell the hardware. Multinational don’t make money with conservation — only by selling more stuff.

Conservation and small scale distributed generation can make the “problem” go away.

Posted by Gregg | Report as abusive

Its really frustrating that the Government can throw (without much consideration) $700B into the black hole called TARP and $180B to save a failed behemoth like AIG but when it comes to doing some meaningful projects (where you actually can see some tangible results) they barely can scrap $5B.

Posted by PwlM | Report as abusive

Speaking of the energy grid, here’s an eye opening article:

We Can’t Get There From Here
http://www.newsweek.com/id/189293
Political will and a price on CO2 won’t be enough to bring about low-carbon energy sources.
Published Mar 14, 2009
Sharon Begley
From the magazine issue dated Mar 23, 2009
————— snip
Lewis’s numbers show the enormous challenge we face. The world used 14 trillion watts (14 terawatts) of power in 2006. Assuming minimal population growth (to 9 billion people), slow economic growth (1.6 percent a year, practically recession level) and – this is key – unprecedented energy efficiency (improvements of 500 percent relative to current U.S. levels, worldwide), it will use 28 terawatts in 2050. (In a business-as-usual scenario, we would need 45 terawatts.) Simple physics shows that in order to keep CO2 to 450 ppm, 26.5 of those terawatts must be zero-carbon. That’s a lot of solar, wind, hydro, biofuels and nuclear, especially since renewables kicked in a measly 0.2 terawatts in 2006 and nuclear provided 0.9 terawatts. Are you a fan of nuclear? To get 10 terawatts, less than half of what we’ll need in 2050, Lewis calculates, we’d have to build 10,000 reactors, or one every other day starting now. Do you like wind? If you use every single breeze that blows on land, you’ll get 10 or 15 terawatts. Since it’s impossible to capture all the wind, a more realistic number is 3 terawatts, or 1 million state-of-the art turbines, and even that requires storing the energy – something we don’t know how to do – for when the wind doesn’t blow. Solar? To get 10 terawatts by 2050, Lewis calculates, we’d need to cover 1 million roofs with panels every day from now until then. “It would take an army,” he says. Obama promised green jobs, but still…

Hence the need for Nobel-caliber discoveries. Lewis’s research is on artificial photosynthesis, in which a material (to be determined, thus the research) absorbs sunlight and water and produces hydrogen for fuel but zero CO2. “If we could figure out how to make and deploy such a system, the capacity would be essentially infinite,” he says. Another need is for transmission lines that don’t leak 80 percent of what they carry, says physicist David Pines of the University of California, Davis. “The technology is not remotely there,” he says. “We’re going to have to discover yet another family of superconductors [which do not lose current] that are easily made into wires” and that work at the temperature of liquid nitrogen, a coolant.

Prospects stink for discovering what we need to discover, especially when you consider that to get the right energy mix in 2050, given how long it takes to capitalize and deploy new technologies, we need breakthroughs soon, not in 2049. Yet despite the pressing need, DOE spent a pitiful $2 billion to $3 billion on nondefense, basic energy R&D last year, less than one fifth what we spent in the 1970s and 1980s.
———————- snip

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

Mr Kemp I would like to congratulate you on timely topics.

We do have problems at the national and local level. We need to look at from different prospective rather than just having smart grid. Every home and factory is heated and has a furnace. we burn gas, coal or heating oil to get desired result. we can tap the escaped gases to run mini turbine which would produce electricity at the same time heating water and house or factory. If this cottage industry is tapped into the grid we will reduce the need for vast reserve of power plants for peak and non peak hours.

This may add to our management of energy problem.

Posted by VJ | Report as abusive

John Kemp is a bit out of his arena on this one and clearly knows little about renewable energy except what he get’s from the oligarchs “experts”.

If you take their facts with a grain of salt you begin to realize that distributed micro solar energy systems, at a cost of $5-8 installed, including robust (15 year battery storage) systems make a lot of sense. I am an expert in these systems (I have been personally using them for 26 years) and the preponderance of information in the popular press which is largely derived from the “research” supported by monopolies whose franchise is threatened, is simply false.

At $10 per watt installed, one trillion $ buys 100 gigawatts of secure, uninteruptible, cost-effective power. How can it be cost-effective? Because you have already replaced all of your appliances with the most efficient models reducing your consumption by as much as 50-60%. This means a much smaller system than is required by our current extravagant and wasteful use of energy.

Of course we can continue down our current path in order to satisfy the monopoly’s needs for control and unearned profits thereby dooming ourselves to a low standard of living and an increasingly uninhabitable world, or we can make the adjustment using technologies that we already have.

So let’s see. On one side we have a downward spiral with a kind of hell on earth and on the other side a balanced world that does not consume itself for short term gain. But we have to change our habits and confront the entrenched interests. It may be possible that we are too dumbed-down to see the obvious self-interested choice here, but I hope not.

Posted by Jonathan Cole | Report as abusive

It is so nice to see people are aware of Combined Heat and Power. Why is it that CHP is not at the for front of these conversations. Not only is it a good way to balance out the peaks and troughs in generation from wind and solar. It can be put in place right now in so many facilities and generate an immediate return.

Posted by Brandon | Report as abusive

Storing solar energy is not impractical if you store it chemically. Use solar energy to cause a chemical reaction that separate components which will be stored separately, then unite components and use the reaction to create electricity when needed.

Posted by Pablo | Report as abusive

Isn’t there a huge load of energy under our feet ?
and I am not talking about oil. Oil is fuel, but we have so much energy in the ground, I believe we just need to get more geothermal business going. Of course some places are a little more complicated than others but I heat my house using a geothermal heat pump with a minimum of electricity to run it, that comes from solar panels. What’s wrong with that.
Building code needs to change, appliances need to change. Even your shower and toilet need to be different, to recover the heat and energy and potentially water.

Let’s stay optimistic.

Posted by Luc | Report as abusive

I appreciate the comments from Gregg and Jonathan Cole. I am an energy and resource professional whose primary tool is GIS, (mapping and spatial analysis). Here in the desert, the grid is built to handle 4pm in July, precisely when roof top photovoltaic could be filling the grid from the opposite end.

What is the faster way to fill a large sponge: with a stream from above or dropping it in the water? How about when the faucet is restricted? The same could be said for micro to medium scale hydro, wind, tidal, NG cogen, etc. It does not matter where you live, there are solutions available. However, as with the banking industry, increasing centralization increases risk and potential costs.

In my finance coursework many years ago we called it economic smoothing, or facility optimization. The sources of energy that will bridge us to the future will be a combination of all of the above, but it should be an increasingly decentralized power system that keeps us out of the dark.

Posted by James Goodrich | Report as abusive

I agree that there are problems with centralized power-generation going forward. Many of the hurdles are technical although some are financial. The only feasible option is green power – decentralized heating and electricity.

The existing power grid was created when the tax or revenue base still held the promise of growth. New companies were forming and communities emerging making use of the resource. You will find that energy consumers in general will not be able to support the capital expeditures required to upgrade let alone expand the grid over the next few decades.

I know that electricity seems like a green technology. But everything depends on the source – the type of fuel and the distance away. Just consider all of the service vehicles required for the system right down to the end user. How about all of the potentially arable land that is set aside for transmission towers.

With the exception of the refrigerator and air-conditioning, a house can generate all of the electricity it needs from photovoltaics and wind generators – in the future enough for the lights, television, laptop and radio. The heat we can get from solid fuel, solar panels and various types of gas. Humans have lived thousands of years without refrigeration, but today we think that we can’t turn back. Sure we can. In winter you should even be able to store fresh meat in a cool room. We we create a heat load in the house in the winter to keep meat cold, I don’t have the foggiest idea. There are even ways to cool a house with heat. It’s a different type of system.

Anyways, the lack of alternative thinking is because electrical companies what people to use energy. That is the whole point. They want people to be dependent. They succeeded. I just don’t know how people will be able to pay all of the future cost. It’s a bit like General Motors killing off every competing new concept and then the company bordering on bankruptcy. The end result is a void that causes a lot of suffering.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Why is geothermal electricity production not discussed here in the U.S.. New Zealand sits on some of the hardest bedrock in the world and succeeded drilling through it. The have now exceeded Kyoto greenhouse gas emission targets and are years ahead of schedule. The 50 billion or so dollars from the 780 plus billion dollar stimulus for energy seems at best a token gesture. Vastly larger investment and substantive action are required to move towards sustainable energy consumption and energy independence. This would create jobs and allow for redirection of our energy resources enabling us to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This is an investment that pays dividends long into the future.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I discourage the use of heat pumps unless the ground temperature is really much warmer than the surroundings. Geothermal still requires electricity. But the expense of maintaining the collector coils and servicing the system makes it illogical for most people. If you live on a really good heat source I suppose a person might just need circulating pumps and heat exchangers.

The best way to take advantage of heat pumps would be with solar panels – essentially pumping the heat from the sun. But the basic problem is that a house would still need a primary heating systems – e.g. to kick in when there is no sunshine. It’s still a viable option in some cases – i.e. if you have the cash.

Some exotic ideas include bioreactors – relying on bacterial decay – which can theoretically generate heat and combustible gases. But then everybody needs a PHD to heat their house or community gasification facility.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

There\’s a topology of solutions using CO2 sequestered coal electrical generation and coals to liquid processes. Basicly take generated H2 by coal gasification (esp. off-peak) and synthesize methanol and ethanol to create potential energy in liquid form. H2 can also be produced by electrolysis during peak-wind generation non-demand moments. Methanol and ethanol can be further processed to gasoline.

BTW geothermal electrical generation should be great for peak trimming too.

Posted by Sunny Wyo | Report as abusive

The article makes an important point: Development and management of the electric grid and power generation for that grid are important.
Did the projection figures they made include the rise in demand that is likely when electric cars will be more common? If not than the investments in the grid are probably higher than the 1trn they projected – if it can deliver the capacity at all.
There is another point: Do the investments include the hardening of the grid against potentially crippling solar flares?

Posted by Robynne | Report as abusive

As many have commented already, the principal problem is not grid. It is source.

We still struggle with generation. Existing sources cannot be scaled with a sustainable and affordable economics. Yet new sources remain a challenge of the highest order. There is yet no solution.

Unless finance and the stock market, one cannot play with nature. It is governed by physics, and the physics say NO. All the greatest engineering and designs of mankind cannot say yes when the physics says no.

Posted by The Real Deal | Report as abusive

would someone who understands the issue comment on the vulnerability of the grid to a solar plasma event and its relationship to diversification. thanks

Posted by walt hauschildt | Report as abusive

I’m not an electrician or electrical engineer. Just as a wild guess off the top of my head, I suppose if we ground different degrees of rotation and create ionic bridges in the soil, there might be offsetting differentials that can contribute to brownouts. The same is true with the atmosphere if it becomes more conductive since transfer voltages are generally quite high – such as 10,000 volts – leading to a greater likelihood of jumping. It will be a good read when somebody corrects me as far as these plasma events. I’m not sure how many plasma people read these articles.

But diversification is positively critical to survive any kind of prolonged power outage. I remember when we lost power for a few days one summer and lost everything in the refrigerator. It is far worse though losing heat in the winter. Electrical infrastructure is getting old. We are placing heavy demands on what we have. We are using more power not less. Plus we have placed our faith in computer control systems with lots of complicated software coding. If we could canvas the cities of tomorrow to learn what triggers all the electrical loads and when, develop adaptive algorithms to automatically adjust, we might be okay. But just by accident we can get hit by the electrical version of a rogue wave. We could be under attack and not even know.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

John,
Thanks for raising this topic. It seems to have triggered an active debate with a lot of factual information, which bears testimony to the fact that current worries are indeed extremely actual and deserve far more attention that they get. It is amazing to see how comments posted reflect that many people may be looking at the same issue at the same time with vary different angles. Sometimes, one would hope, and preferrably sooner rather than later, this could result in a democratic drive providing new directions to studies, solutions and budget spending of the world economies. One of the key issues is probably: how to convert millions of unformal individual debates such as this one into concrete influence on policies for realistic goals to be set,respected and translated into law? I particularly liked the comment of one of the readers on university / teaching. Such topics should become widely taught by praticians and theoricians of the field to educate more engineers and generate the brain resources that will have to carry on research on the topic in the next decades. If massive amounts have been spent on space exploration related projects in the 50s and 60s culminating with man being sent on the moon (was it really needed?), one could hope that at least a similar attention and money would be devoted to environment related energetic issues (for which solutions are badly needed to preserve human life). All the more so as money spent on research and its applications, new industrial sectors and education with identified objectives and adequate budget monitoring is seldom money badly spent.

Posted by Pierre Henri | Report as abusive

The privatized utilities want the government to pay billions to upgrade them into this super consolidated network, how about a simpler route, they make their connections easier and smart, and smart vehicles take energy when there is surplus and intelligence and information visibility substitutes near term for an expensive network (electricity itself has no intelligence).

Sometimes simpler and decentralized is easier, so smart meters might improve things quite a bit, and information on rates and capacity timing so the devices react to the network and not the other way around

Don’t mean to snub the people who are contributing to the debate, but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem many people who’ve posted actually is in the industry. And we talk facts.

If we continue our reckless fossil fuel burning rampage, eventually we’ll run out.

Till then, fossil fuel prices will be pushed up, and they will be passed onto the consumer.

It will be beneficial for the consumer to try him/herself to start making real changes, how soon, time will tell.

They’ll be pressure on the governments to start to act, and by then it’ll be likely too late. There WILL be an energy crisis in the next 30 years, or maybe a bit further down the line, but it’ll come.

Someone posted an article whom the writer is an expert on the matter, and it just can’t be done.

We can’t meet future energy expections without more salvaging of fossil fuels.

Scientific breakthroughs will come, and maybe if we’re lucky perhaps the golden egg to our woes.

So, till then, just keeping ringing your providers and asking them why your bill is extroadinarily high.

Posted by Alabarmy | Report as abusive

[...] The Great Debate » Renewables to spark U.S. grid revolution | The Great Debate | Growing power consumption and the U.S. administration’s plan to rely more heavily on renewable generation sources will increase the demand on America’s already overloaded electricity grid and require major investment in transmission and distribution networks. [...]

[...] Sun Supermarket - Growing power consumption and the U.S. administration’s plan to rely more heavily on renewable generation sources will increase the demand on America’s already overloaded electricity grid and require major investment in transmission and distribution networks. Reuters blog>> [...]

what is wrong with the idea of solar/wind/geothermal energy production distributed throught the housing industry. Let new homes be constructed with these built in and the government can give rebates on older homes to convert. In much of the south and west these homes produce more power per year than they use. The excess could be sold to business and provided to a developing electric transportations industry. I could be way off base since I am no expert but, it looks like this would eleviate a lot of the stress on the current grid system.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

[...] am in Kansas City and am too tired to write so I will post a link to John Kemp’s blog forReuters.  Kemp argues well that upgrading the existing electric supply delivery system is a [...]

One thing that will help us meet the goals presented is to conserve where possible. If you’re not using as much electricity to begin with you won’t need as much infrastructure. In my own apartment I did knock down the electrical usage by one seventh, and we’re a family of five. If the government further encouraged conservation they could lower the cost to be invested by a similar amount.

In my case, why I started on the route to conservation to the extent I have is saving myself money. It pays off big time. Our budget isn’t as stretched as it would have been otherwise. More savings have also been realized by turning down the thermostat, installing LED nitelights and other technologies. Saving money on the utilities has allowed me to further invest in even more items that save money, like NiMH batteries.

Posted by Brian Bigelow | Report as abusive

[...] The Great Debate » Debate Archive » Renewables to spark U.S. grid … [...]