Dana Blankenhorn has some suggestions on how the US shouldre-think its electrical grid architecture:
The Electric Power Research Institute has [an] idea. They want consumers empowered to put up solar panels, wind generators, anything they can, and they want the utilities to buy that power. Sensors, solid state controllers and intelligent agents would manage this two-way grid.
Micro-power sources — wind, solar, fuel cell, etc. — can pay for themselves if they have access to the market for their excess. When the wind is blowing hard, when the Sun is beating down, you may be producing more than you need, while when the Sun goes down and the wind dies you may need a fill-up. Remember, peak loads in America occur when it’s hottest. This is not something the industry should be resisting.
What we need is a grid that’s more like the Internet, with no single potential source of failure. We need a power generation system that’s more like Linux, one everyone can play in. All our failure to do that does is hand the future to those who do. As it is in technology generally, so it is with electricity. You think, you adapt, or you’re buried — in Internet Time.
I think what Dana wants is a “scale-free” network architecture for the electrical field. I spent Sunday reading (again) three books related to the science of networks – Duncan Watts’ Six Degrees, Barabasi’s Linked and Mark Buchanan’s Nexus. We have to “think networks”.