This commentary is by Jock Gill of Peacham, an internet communications consultant who served in President Bill Clinton’s Office of Media Affairs. He is town energy coordinator in Peacham.
Our fossil fuel energy system is broken: It is obsolete, has single points of failure, and its energy is expensive. Moreover, it is both vulnerable to cyberattacks while it is also destroying our environment.
Every dollar we spend on fossil fuels represents an unnecessary tax on the American consumer. The current weather patterns — including lethal heat waves, uncontrollable wildfires, severe droughts, and more frequent, violent storms — demonstrate that our current energy policy is unsustainable.
There is an alternative. It is called “computational energy.” Computational energy is based on local renewable generation, local smart storage and omnidirectional multipath connectivity, much like the internet.
Such a system is robust; it avoids single points of failure. It has the additional advantage of offering lower-price energy products while being friendly to the environment. For example, a new battery developed in Holland can be connected to a Wi-Fi cloud-based algorithm that controls the battery so as to provide maximal savings of energy and maximal earnings from dynamic energy contracts. The company writes: “It considers solar radiation and consumption forecast, as well as electricity prices, in order to calculate the optimum time to charge and discharge the battery.”
Other devices, such as Tesla Powerwalls and Sonnen batteries, are also compatible with and enable computational energy systems.
The advent of game-changing smart local storage, whether stationary or mobile, allows for the development of energy systems that nearly eliminate carbon-based energy in favor of a computational energy system based on renewable sources. This new approach raises at least four questions that must be answered:
1: How do we optimize the system composed of the three components: renewable wind and solar, smart storage, and the grid?
2: How should the system maximize the time off the grid? Is it best to run on batteries and local renewables as much as possible?
3: How do we minimize the amount of energy taken from the grid?
4. How do we maximize the amount of energy sent to the grid?
Once these questions have been answered, we can develop performance goals for the computational energy system.
1: Reduce the cost of installed watt of solar energy for residential properties to less than $1.50.
2: Establish a target of 200 megawatts of new renewable energy generation per year for the next 15 to 20 years. This means powering our electric vehicles and heat pumps with real green energy. (See CADMUS Vermont Pathways Analysis, page 24.)
3: Reduce the price of energy below 6 cents per kWh. (Note that the global average levelized cost of energy for large-scale solar electricity arrays has already fallen to 4.8 cents per kilowatt hour according to the IRENA study. This price will be below the present cost of transmission. The cost of transmission alone makes centrally generated energy too expensive.
4: Establish a state office that facilitates and supports new renewable energy and storage projects, especially community solar projects.
5: Implement legislation or regulation to allow locally produced renewable energy to be sold across property lines, presently not allowed, to the highest bidder, not necessarily a utility. This is necessary to ensure a robust computational energy market with multipath connectivity.
All of these goals will require the relevant governmental agencies to align their policies and regulations to support these goals. Unfortunately, this is not the case now. …….