With electricity prices at record highs in Spain due to chronically inefficient models, it is hard to imagine that a revolution that will sweep aside the systems we have known over the last half century is about to usher in a new model that based on abundance and providing cheap or even free energy.
That said, there are more and more signs that energy will be the next great revolution: the arrival of what some call enernet, a dynamic, distributed, redundant, multi-participatory energy network built around the generation, storage and delivery of clean energy. People have been talking about the application of the internet model to generating electricity for many years, based, as one might expect, on technological progress and to Swanson’s Law, akin to Moore’s Law, but applied to solar photovoltaic modules.
You can’t ignore Swanson’s Law
My good friend Tom Raftery has just published a provocative piece here on Medium called “What do we do in a world where…
Improvements in building materials means we can roof a house with cheaper and more resistant tiles than conventional ones, allowing us to generate solar energy on a scale unthinkable even a few years ago. Using material to clad our homes that can generate energy and last longer than traditional forms means it now makes sense for home owners themselves to invest in such products. At the same time, we will also see the emergence of companies willing to pay for such installations in exchange for managing the energy produced, as well as deciding when to replace the tiles with new, more efficient materials.
As more and more companies build their own power generation facilities to ensure clean, cheap energy supplies, and with cheaper solar power than coal can provide, measures by corrupt politicians such as those in Wyoming or Spain sound increasingly anachronistic: the practice of traditional companies turning a profit from aging infrastructure will increasingly give way to distributed facilities, in which apartment block residents or other neighborhood associations will replace the roofs of their homes to generate clean energy to be consumed and accounted for by blockchain-based systems, while protecting themselves from possible shortages in the event of adverse weather by increasingly efficient batteries and larger networks.
A single home may have problems if it disconnects from the national grid, but an entire community can generate surpluses that can provide stability to the system and create opportunities for more innovative companies from those distributed generation cells.
The energy market is about to experience the biggest disruption in its history, and traditional companies that do not want to explore it and position themselves accordingly face huge risks from smaller, more agile players.
Ignoring these changes and perpetuating traditional inefficient models is no longer an option, and above all, it is irresponsible. The energy revolution is the next great frontier, and from a technological point of view, just around the corner. With energy prices sky-high in Spain and other countries, it is time the media started raising awareness for a public debate on this vital matter.
(En español, aquí)