August 30, 2015

...AND CHEAPER...:

A revolution comes in layers : The "energy crisis" hit like a locomotive in the 1970s. Today's "energy revolution" didn't happen suddenly. It grew out millions of innovations, processes, and decisions.  (John Yemma, AUGUST 30, 2015, CS Monitor)

A genuine revolution often arrives quietly, barely noticed because it unfolds gradually and cumulatively. That's today's energy revolution. 

Oil prices are tumbling. New extraction procedures have made oil and natural gas abundant. But that hasn't slowed solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative power sources. Conservation hasn't slowed either. LED lights and less-voracious appliances are curbing consumption and forcing the mothballing of carbon-spewing power plants.

And that is only the beginning. The next wave is batteries. As you'll see in David Unger's cover story, better batteries will make solar and wind power effective when the sun doesn't shine and the winds don't blow. As major undertakings such as Elon Musk's Tesla "gigafactory" improve lithium-ion batteries and manufacture them at industrial scale, prices will decrease and use will surge.

When houses, offices, and industrial plants can produce and store energy sufficient for their needs, then power plants, utility companies, and the electric grid - that 450,000-mile network of high-voltage transmission lines strung across the US that is perhaps the most complex and vulnerable installation on the planet - become less important. There will still be a need for always-available, industrial-scale electricity. But power consumption is already diminishing year by year. Ahead lies a shakeout of the 7,300 power plants in the US, especially the dirtier and less efficient ones.

Posted by at August 30, 2015 6:24 PM
  

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