GRID 2.0 could be an chance revolutionize Society by catalyzing two critical resources…
People have been hearing more Mainstream Media buzz around Smart Grid or GRID2.0 initiatives. Some have even considered the finer points of the debates that have sprung out from the power struggles that are going on behind the scenes – mostly arising from the proposed methods and standards that would be applied to unify the current patchwork of disparate electrical transmission systems that we call “The Grid”. This need to get competing interests to actually cooperate on common initiatives is only one of the biggest challenges to overcome in leapfrogging over simple upgrades, and actually re-building our electrical distribution systems to meet the emerging needs of the 21st Century.
Some people will simply presume that these initiatives are just another example of the Corporate world wishing to cut it’s costs through new efficiencies, by updating equipment or infrastructure at the expense of Customers and Taxpayers. While this may well be true, the biggest opportunities (and risks to corporate hegemony) actually revolve around the emerging protocols and standards that threaten to democratize monopolistic hierarchies, open up delivery systems to smaller suppliers, and take full advantage of the enormous opportunities to fully optimize (and even automate) the basic economic principals of Supply and Demand with lightening fast methods based on remote sensing and network communications.
How could such a pervasive part of modern life still be so easily misunderstood?
Electricity is the invisible force at the very center of almost all the enabling technologies of our Modern world, and has filled this role for quite awhile now, so it might come as a surprise to many that it actually doesn’t operate anywhere near as well as it could, or should. In fact, this incredibly powerful and pervasive amenity has actually been under increasing pressure and burden as a result of its poorly aging design concepts that are based in distribution principals set down well over a century ago, and which are now are in dire need of upgrading.
By looking at some of the ‘Smart Grid’ or Grid 2.0 concepts that have been getting renewed attention of late, we see all sorts of progressive ideas to better deliver a product that already travels to the Customer at the speed of light, but that is currently still often getting managed and brokered via analogue links and mechanical switches, along distribution systems that were never really meant to accept power, rather than distribute it…and that’s just where the shortcomings begin.
Our various electrical grids have been built, rebuilt, and patched up in an ongoing process that began when electric power first began to be generated well over a century ago. Of course plenty of new power plants and transmission towers have been patched into the existing infrastructure since those early days, and the costs of maintaining these have been paid for (repeatedly) by ratepayers who would presumably like to benefit from these fully amortized assets (at least for awhile) before incurring any new costs, or adding to already enormous public debts. So why exactly should anybody be bothered to consider the staggering expenses of undertaking a major upgrade of our various electrical grids at this particular point in history?
Most people are in fact much more interested in the development of newenergy (re)sources, rather than in understanding the boring details of delivering existing electricity into our homes and commercial spaces, so why worry about the distribution of power in a ‘smart’ electrical grid, when the old grid seems to be doing an adequate job ?
Suspected anomalies discovered in article published at MIT News :
The ongoing, yet destructively repressed and polarized, debates between so called Climate Skeptics (and their ilk) VS. the popular proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) may have cooled slightly in the post-Copenhagen lull. But questions around the scope of Scientific Method employed in determining AGW, are only now beginning to rise to the forefront of Public Consciousness.
The primary question has been to wonder if it’s indeed possible for ‘pure science’ (at least at the educational research level) to be bent or distorted in order to serve pre-ordained objectives.
So can science be bent around the points of peerage that are always subject to new review (according to said Method), to instead selectively support current states of research. In effect whatever specific agendas, that might tap into otherwise unavailable funding, or even simply to act as a public relations tool – in service of much larger visibility campaigns?
If we can possibly leave aside (just for now) the temporarily cooled question of Climate Change, we could look for signs of all of the above in a surprisingly exuberant article published on the MIT News site in July 2008 instead of wondering if science is above promoting itself for the sake of funding or notoriety.
Even though it’s exultant title wildly proclaims that a “Major Discovery from MIT is primed to unleash a Solar Revolution”! the hard science and empirical data or comparative results behind the article are thinly presented (at least from the Layman’s POV), and there still doesn’t seem to be much obvious evidence of wider public discourse or a proper ‘peer review’ process around this “major discovery” either.
Perhaps this is just the style employed for wider press releases via “MIT News”, however one would at least expect to see evidence of published papers/results, or at least links to some shared or foundation research. Perhaps MIT is operating under the principals of private enterprise, and it wouldn’t want to jeopardize plans to commercialize it’s discovery by giving away any un-patented trade secrets.
That last possibility would indicate that we’ve already seriously diverged out of the field of publicly funded research, and into corporately (privately?) held intellectual property. Perhaps someone could clarify the business model that supports MIT, or other such institutions to dispel any such naivete that could be evidenced here.
In any case, let’s try to leave commercial interests aside, and get back to some hard Science.