Somewhat counter-intuitive take on the new electrical grid that’s been bandied about as an infrastructure project within the stimulus bill(s) set to appear at State House near you.
But there are better — and cheaper — ways to get more clean power flowing to the big cities. Renewable energy resources are found all across the country; they don’t need to be harnessed from just one place. In the Northwest, the largest amount of green power comes from hydroelectricity. In the Northeast, the best source may be the wind over the ocean, because it blows harder and more consistently there than on land. Offshore wind farms have been proposed for Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. In the Southwest, solar energy can be tapped on a large scale. And in the Southeast, biomass from forests may one day be a major source of sustainable power. In each area, developing these power sources would be cheaper than piping in clean energy from thousands of miles away.
As his omniscient narrator, I’ll say this is predicated on using far less power to make any of these suggested power solutions work, as we should begin to stipulate about every single thing. The writer draws a distinction between a smart grid and high-capacity transmission lines, the former distinguishing itself as a locally-deployed system within a multi-dimensional strategy against waste and inefficiency. Which is the only way to really address waste or efficiency. Once we get into what some of these concepts – a smart grid, for instance – mean, they begin to define long-term solutions in the only way in which they can be defined as viable – on a local scale. Ideas can come from anywhere, but they have to make sense there, first. Then a next-step Mandlebrot set in reverse motion can begin – leading the way toward more grander-scale solutions as we pan out. Or, luck be your lady tonight, altering their urgency into something more manageable.
Of course, changing how we think about a big new electrical grid for the country opens up more space to think about trains, SUPER and otherwise. Which is as it should be.