Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Of Networks and Decentralised Power

August 17th, 2003 · 1 Comment

The failure of the electrical grid in the US and Canada has a couple of interesting discussion threads. Paul Philp writes about the impact of networks on our lives: “The lesson of this loss is that networks arent machines. We cannot control networks the way we control machines. We must decentralize our control, distribute intelligence and allow the network to learn and adapt. We will find someone to blame and throw some bums out of office. We will serve ourselves well if, at the same time, we add to our ability to trust innovation…The machine era is over. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”

The Rocky Mountain Institute suggests: “Americans should look to distributed, diverse, and resilient clean technologies to power their industries, homes, and communities. America’s existing systembased on a hundred years’ worth of heavily centralized generation and distribution policiescan trigger a cascading series of errors that leaves us vulnerable and should be corrected.”

RMI also has published a book: “Small is Profitable“. It may be worth a read in this context. From the introduction: “[The book] describes 207 ways in which the size of electrical resources devices that make, save, or store electricityaffects their economic value. It finds that properly considering the economic benefits of distributed (decentralized) electrical resources typically raises their value by a large factor, often approximately tenfold, by improving system planning, utility construction and operation, and service quality, and by avoiding societal costs.”

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