Chances are, the computer, tablet or phone that you are using to read this post is powered by electricity produced by coal, natural gas or nuclear energy. Currently, the overwhelming bulk of power for the nation's electrical work is generated in large, centralized plants that use those three fuels. However, with the rise of renewable energy sources as well as a transition to modern and responsive grid technology, the country's electric infrastructure is poised to move toward a more dispersed generation system. Read on to learn what that means for you.
Huge Generating Plants Vulnerable to Disruption
According to the Energy Information Administration, 39 percent of the nation's electricity comes from coal, 27 percent from natural gas and 19 percent from nuclear fuel. In addition to being non-renewable, the three fuels that make up 85 percent of our electricity production also work best in massive power plants that produce large amounts of power, which is then sent out long distances through the grid to power our electrical work.
This large-scale generation has advantages – economies of scale, for one – but it is also inflexible and can be subject to disruption. An event that causes a plant to shut down or interrupts its distribution, for example, could leave entire communities without power. The grid is also, in effect, a one-way street – electricity leaves the generating plant and arrives at your home, where it is consumed.
Renewable Energy and Advancing Technology
However, several changes are occurring that will create a more dispersed and flexible generation system to power our electrical work. For one, the share of renewable energy sources, which don't require large generating plants, is continuing to grow. Solar panels are popping up on rooftops across America, while wind power could provide as much as a third of the electricity in the country by 2050. In addition to being far better for the environment than fossil fuels, these power generators can scale down to even a household-by-household basis.
The other change that is facilitating a more dispersed power generation system is an advance in technology in the electric grid, which allows power to flow in two directions, both to your home and away from your home. That means that electricity can be generated almost anywhere and then zipped along the power lines to wherever it is needed. Breakthroughs in power storage technology will also help guide us toward a future where the power for our electrical work is created when and where it's needed, freeing us from the constraints created by large, inflexible power plants.
Generate Electricity at Your Own Home
If you want to learn more about adding renewable power sources to your property, or need any other electrical work done, call up an expert electrician today.