- Energy produced locally, is a threat to monopilistic systems.
Decentralized or Distributed power generation is the technology and practice of generating energy where it is needed. By using locally available energy sources and utilizing the waste heat from any combustion process, one can increase efficiency to over 80%. Often used on a small scale at local schools and in community supported energy systems, distributed power solves many of the problems of centralized systems. By generating energy where it is needed we eliminate the transmission losses of sending electricity through the grid, we are able to use the waste heat byproduct to heat or cool the work or living space.
We actually can enhance the grid by lowering the peak demand caused by the centralized model of energy generation and usage. Since electricity is generated where and when it is needed, grid and infrastructure upgrades are not required.
Because our society is so heavily dependent on centralized energy production derived from expensive fossil fuels, it makes sense to seek out alternatives. Energy from a variety of sources ensures a plentiful supply and prevents us from being overly reliant on a single source. Using locally produced energy is less expensive than building new centralized power plants and allows opportunities for reducing emissions by reducing the need for coal fired plants making electricity, polluting the air we breath, and destroying mountain tops
Decentralized energy can include a wide range of technologies from small- to intermediate-scale fossil-fuel conversion, such as micro-turbines, to renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines, wave energy, solar energy, and the conversion of biomass- and agricultural-residue into energy.
Decentralized energy projects involving small utilities, micro-power producers, industrial power producers, homeowners, commercial project developers, cooperative and grassroots organizations, and non-governmental organizations, all provide a framework for stability, that will serve to lower energy costs and give Americans a more reliable energy supply system.
The Drawbacks of Central Power plants:
The traditional model of centralized power generation has at least five drawbacks:
- The central fossil-fired plants cannot recycle by-product “waste” heat and thereby waste about 70% of the fuel used in the production of electricity. Even state-of-the-art CCGT plants waste about 50% – causing extra pollution and creating additional gas security of supply concerns.
- Transmission and distribution (T&D) system losses are 8 to 10% of generated electricity and those losses are growing due to transmission congestion.Global T&D waste exceeds the combined annual electricity used by the world’s 3rd, 4th and 5th biggest economies (Germany, the UK and France).
- While the economies of scale favor larger plants, the efficiencies of local energy production increasingly favor smaller plants. Decentralized electricity generation at or near users requires only half the capital of new central power generation, when you factor in new transmission and distribution lines, DE plants can be substantially more efficient.
- Centralized power production cannot keep up with growing demand without major infrastructure upgrades. This is costly, as expanding the transmission lines uses more land and mars the visual quality of our landscape as well as poising our water supply with more and more chemicals that are sprayed to prevent weed growth under power lines, or used as preservatives on wood poles.
- Centralized power production and the electric grid, are vulnerable to disruption by; acts of nature, terrorist attack and plain old accidents. This accounts for all the major blackouts that have happened in North America since the 1960’s. The growing amount of electrical usage and waste also threatens our aging power distribution.
Guerrilla Solar Defined
Energy is freely and democratically provided by Nature. This century’s monopolization of energy by utilities both public and private threatens the health of our environment. Solar guerrillas believe that clean renewable energy should be welcomed by utilities. But utilities and governments continue to put up unreasonable barriers to interconnection, pushing common citizens to solar civil disobedience. Guerrilla systems do not endanger utility line workers (see HP71, page 58). They share clean, renewable energy with others on the utility grid, and reduce the need for polluting generation plants. When interconnection for small-scale renewables becomes fair, simple, and easily accessible to all, there will be no more need for guerrilla action.