The current energy macrogrids are beset by inefficiency and unreliability. Changing the way we distribute energy is crucial to climate action.
The energy industry currently works something like this:
- coal, oil, gas are used to heat water
- this water turns into steam, flowing towards a turbine which then begins to rotate
- this generates energy (don’t kill me for saying generate rather than transform)
- this electricity flows through power lines to different points around the country
- you plug a laptop charger, TV, or kettle into the plug socket, using the electricity to power these items
This process is fairly simple, but it causes a lot of problems, both practical and political.
Firstly, a lot of the electricity is lost into the surrounding environment as heat energy when it is being transmitted through power lines — around 2/3, to be more precise. That’s a lot of money wasted for the electricity companies, and a lot of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.
Secondly, this system can mean blackouts and a lack of reliability. If a central part of the grid fails, energy can fail for a lot of people for some time. Given how we live our lives in the modern world, that is not something we can afford to be contemplating.