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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Remember the halcyon days when we took electricity for granted?

Our 21st century society is defined by electricity. In Australia, energy has become BBQ conversation fodder and a tabloid media fascination, as power bills soar and the ever-present threat of petrol (gasoline) price rises hangs over us. With electrical and electronic appliances running nearly everything, we are an electric people. Even our cars are set to join this increasingly all-electric future!

Yet the electricity system that feeds our daily habits is hopelessly outdated. Today’s ‘grid’ is a Stalinistic anachronism, based on a polluting and ever-more expensive model of large, centralised, mainly fossil fuel-burning power stations transmitting energy one-way to our homes and enterprises. Under threat from climate change, and in desperate need of big solutions, we’re now on the threshold of a power revolution that can transform the grid into a smart energy version of the Internet. This electricity ‘Intergrid’, as it is being dubbed, will be driven by many millions of consumers instead of a handful of big suppliers. We’ll draw power and we’ll generate power everywhere, using the poles, wires and switches of the grid as connective tissue for a better, cleaner, more secure and resilient way of living.

This is my first post for this blog. I think our electricity systems will be transformed by new thinking and smart technologies faster than many of us currently imagine, and I am working for that to be the case - including as part of an emerging consumer-focused technology development company, Wattwatchers, based in my home city of Sydney. But what do you think? Add your thoughts to build on this discussion of the future of the grid. 

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