Sunday, March 8, 2009

Electricity Generation: Centralization vs. Decentralization

An interesting and well made argument against decentralization of electricity generation:
"Small is ugly if it means we keep burning coal
Big is beautiful if it breaks our dead-dinosaur addiction

Still, the writer doesn't say a lot about using a diverse combination of alternatives, which is where decentralization seems to come into its own. He sticks mostly with wind and photovoltaics, but that's probably because they are the most viable choices for quick delivery solutions. Also, it seems that if we reduce our household consumption substantially through efficiency gains, decentralization offers better opportunities for lower cost production and reliability (see below: "Renewables: Intermittency & Reliability," or possibly more to the point and more convincing: "Mighty Mice"). But that still leaves commercial consumption (for which co-generation offers benefits -- see below).

It will be a while before the decentralization vs. centralization clamor dies down. In the meantime, let's do both, centralized and de-centralized renewables -- they're by no means incompatible.

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