Want To Avoid Another Texas Debacle? Here Is How To Create A Clean, Resilient Electrical Grid

Small-scale, distributed generation resources must take the place of our Industrial Revolution-era grid

Erik Kobayashi-Solomon
Feb 26 · 11 min read
A long line to enter a pharmacy in Austin, Texas during the Great Texas Faceplant of 2021. Source: Wikipedia

Executive Summary

  • Renewable energy represents one major pillar of our post-carbon civilization but covering Arizona in solar panels is a dumb solution (sorry, Elon).
  • To preserve our standard of living, we must quadruple our electricity production and convert to 100% renewables by the time a baby born today can vote. This hurdle is impossible to clear using Industrial Revolution thinking; to succeed, we must take a page from the Internet Age.
  • The Next Generation Grid will look much different than the one we have today — the next gen paradigm is organic, local, and highly distributed.
  • An innovative non-profit foundation — LF Energy and its constituent programs like SOGNO (which was originally funded and supported by the European Union) — and a few new ventures — Swell (a California-based start-up) and sonnen, Inc. (the US branch of a German firm now owned by Royal Dutch Shell) are on the vanguard.

Solar Just Doesn’t Scale

For anyone past the denial stage of climate grief, the knee-jerk reaction to news about the increasingly obvious signs of how close the world is to catastrophic climate tipping points is to throw up a few gazillion solar panels.

  • Convert our entire legacy industrial production infrastructure (e.g., steel, glass, and cement factories) to run on electric power (or use renewables some other way).
  • Create an entirely new class of industrial infrastructure that does not exist yet — namely Direct Air Capture plants.
A solar array in Portugal. Source: Wikipedia

Taking a Page from the Internet Age Playbook

The Linux operating system started as a project to satisfy a master’s thesis requirement for a nerdy Finn in 1991. Flash forward thirty years and now Linux has the largest installed base of any operating system on the planet.

Dr. Shuli Goodman, Executive Director of LF Energy. Source: Dr. Shuli Goodman

What the Next Generation Grid Looks Like

Asking experts about the future of the grid offered me some memorable images.

Kristov, et al’s model for a layered, resilient infrastructure system starts with resilient neighborhoods. Source: Dr. Lorenzo Kristov
  • Speed of implementation through free market action built on a common, open-source development platform.
  • Resiliency in an age of increasingly severe natural disasters.

Grid Innovation for Consumers and Investors

Swell Energy

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Erik Kobayashi-Solomon

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Passionate about harnessing the power of the free market to solve humanity’s biggest adaptation challenge.

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We publish inspiring stories about different topics for a productive and entertaining life

Erik Kobayashi-Solomon

Written by

Passionate about harnessing the power of the free market to solve humanity’s biggest adaptation challenge.

The Shadow

We publish inspiring stories about different topics for a productive and entertaining life

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