Essay by Eric Worrall
Are greens replacing fantasies of energy sources which don’t work, with fantasies of energy sources which don’t exist?
For a clean energy future, our relationship to the grid must change. Here’s how
Jul 15, 2022
- Outdated domestic power grids are currently unable to integrate necessary renewable energy sources.
- As we transition to a carbon-free society we need to transform the way we power and manage the grid.
- Future grids that capitalize on the potential of distributed energy resources can help flatten the demand curve.
Our current domestic power grids are woefully inept to integrate necessary renewable energy sources – plagued by ageing, outdated technology and a regulatory structure that hampers the ability to upgrade the critical infrastructure required. In the US alone, the power grid operates at about 40% efficiency.
The answer to solving this problem lies within a new approach to electricity: one that focuses on optimizing the way customers and their technologies interact with the grid. The devastating effects of climate change demand that we take our next steps without introducing more pollution and unsustainable demand on extracted resources.
A possible path forward
Enabling software and other technologies have only recently emerged, so there’s much to do to realize the potential of this future grid that capitalizes on the potential of DERs. Utility planning capabilities, regulatory structures, and business models are all in the very early stages. One critical requirement will be some type of central registry that classifies assets by type and significant characteristics, (e.g. the what, where, when, and the capacity and energy that can be offered). Each aggregator contract would tie it to specific assets, with that relationship documented in the registry. A permissioned-based approach, supported by appropriate grid architecture, would regulate both communications flows and hierarchy of behaviours (e.g. if a battery is contracted to support the grid, it must be available – it can’t have recently sold its energy for another purpose).
Our relationship to the grid – and how we power and manage it – must change. In the past, creating electricity has typically been an environmentally damaging endeavour – whether it’s extracting and burning coal, or harnessing the power of nuclear fission while creating radioactive waste. Powering our future also means developing sustainable, non-polluting energy that can withstand surges in demand and has more consistent availability than solar and wind power. Hydrogen-boron fusion energy is being developed at TAE Technologies to meet and exceed current demand, without burning coal or creating nuclear waste, with an anticipated date of 2030. The technology will be carbon-free and offer a new, vast supply of energy.
…Read more: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/07/clean-energy-future-relationship-to-grid-must-change
A 2030 timetable for hydrogen boron fusion seems absurdly optimistic.
Hydrogen Boron fusion in theory would be far cleaner than deuterium tritium fusion, because it is one of a class of relatively clean “a-neutronic fusion” reactions. But hydrogen boron is just under 10x more difficult than deuterium tritium fusion, which in my opinion puts hydrogen boron fusion well into fantasy land, with anything resembling current levels of technology.