Friday, April 17, 2015

Defecting from the Power Grid?  Unlikely, Analysts Say

There is broad disagreement about whether rooftop solar could lead homeowners to "defect" from the power grid. (Credit: Duncan Rawlinson/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Former Vice President Al Gore stood before a crowd of renewables investors, analysts and clean energy industry executives and declared the electric power grid in the U.S. as much of a technological dinosaur as landline telephones.

Gore, speaking in New York City at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Future of Energy Summit, asked those in the crowd to raise their hands if they had gotten rid of their landline telephones in favor of a cell phone.  Hands went up all over the room. 

 “We’re not far off from the day when I can ask you how many of you no longer have a grid connection,” Gore said, referring to the link between a home and the power lines outside.

The industry name for cutting the wire between homes and power lines is “grid defection,” and it’s controversial because there is broad disagreement about whether it’s both possible and sensible.

As Gore sees it, homeowners in a changing climate are soon going to find it so cheap and easy to generate and store their own electricity that they’ll be able to treat their electric utility like Ma Bell and go totally off-grid, cutting the power cord forever.  And if a home generating its own electricity with solar panels and batteries isn’t connected to the grid, the home isn’t culpable for any of the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that spew from natural gas power plants or coal-fired power plants — the globe’s largest contributor to climate change.

“There’s just been so much buzz around this term ‘grid defection,’ about how everything we know is going to change,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance associate Logan Goldie-Scott said at the summit.  “Even Al Gore on Monday stood up and sort of boldly proclaimed that in the same way we no longer use land lines, we will no longer have a grid connection in our home. It's a statement we very much disagree with.”

Read more at Defecting from the Power Grid?  Unlikely, Analysts Say

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