Friday, December 28, 2007

207 Reasons Revisited

The 2003 book Small is Profitable offers 207 reasons for decentralizing electricity production. In the few short years since its publication, conditions favoring the book's premise have improved markedly: building-integrated wind turbines on the drawing board, rapidly improving photovoltaic technology, a flood of venture capital, growing public awareness of the need for energy security and energy independence, among other things.

Here's a sampling of the 207:

24 Small units with short lead times reduce the risk of buying a technology that is or becomes obsolete even before it's installed, or soon thereafter.

49 Volatile fuel prices set by fluctuating market conditions represent a financial risk. Many distributed resources do not use fuels and thus avoid that costly risk.

60 Distributed resources matched to customer loads can displace the least utilized grid assets.

82 Distributed resources have an exceptionally high grid reliability value if they can be sited at or near the customer's premises, thus risking less "electron haul length" where supply could be interrupted.

89 Multiple small units are far less likely to fail simultaneously than a single large unit.

123 Distributed resources defer or avoid adding grid capacity.

178 Distributed resources can often be locally made, creating a concentration of new skills, industrial capabilities, and potential to exploit markets elsewhere.