The not so smart grid

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The, in the beginning of September 2013 broadcast, pilot of the Channel 4 series (?) “BLACKOUT” shows how vulnerable our electricity grid is and smart is not the word that I would use to describe it. Stupid would be more adept here.

pylons1It would not even require a (sophisticated) cyber attack to cripple the grid. All it needs is a solar flare of the right magnitude or the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from an asteroid (or meteorite) exploding in the atmosphere. But still the powers-that-be want to make the grid “smarter” still. Sorry, I should really turn off my sarcasm but...

Instead of an ever more “sophisticated” electricity supply grid we must decentralize power generating and distribution down to a local level again – and not just as regards to electricity.

The national supply grid – especially with the reliance on computer control – is highly vulnerable to cyber attacks and to EMP. In fact, an EMP blast, whether from a solar flare of the right magnitude or other source, could cripple all the developed countries' electricity supply and could destroy the entire infrastructure.

We have become too reliant on so-called “smart” technology which is not smart at that smart at all; the technology and our reliance and dependence on it.

It is not a question “if technology fails” but rather “when” and when it happens we are all going to end up up the proverbial watercourse without a paddle.

As (almost) everything is dependent on electrical power when a collapse of the “smart” grid occurs – as it sooner or later will – we are all screwed. Everything will be affected by it; gas supply, water supply, and much, much more.

Smart grid and smart meters are not so much intended to make things easier; they are all designed as a way of control over the population. It has absolutely nothing to do with improving energy delivery or efficiency.

Smart meters are capable to monitor the energy use of every home and if a home, according to the powers-that-be, deemed to use too much power they can and will cut off the supply, for a a short time or for even longer.

It is also for this reason the of-grid energy independence is not being pushed, especially not as to households first and foremost keeping as much as energy as possible generated by themselves by means PVs and small wind, etc. People are always encouraged – pushed would be a better term here – towards feeding the electricity generated directly into the grid.

Only a decentralization of the generating of electrical power can give us security in this respect. Small is beautiful also and especially applies in this case and that is why the author of the book by that title, Fritz Schumacher, also advocated this.

With using renewables such as PVs (on every roof) and small wind also, and storing the generated energy in battery banks every home and building could be self-sufficient as far as electricity goes. Even more so if (1) we changed the current and the voltage that we use and (2) by using less on electricity.

Most of our devices and appliances, today, do not need mains voltage of the 240 V AC 50 Hz (110 V AC 60 Hz in the USA). They use transformers, in fact, to change that high voltage – and it is a very wasteful process – down to low voltage DC, in the region of 12 V or even lower and 12 V DC is the general output power (13.5 V DC nominal, in fact. The same voltage as that of a ordinary motorcar) of domestic PVs and small wind. Thus a lighting a lower power circuit could be created in buildings as only some of the so-called “white goods” require mains voltage. There are, however, fridges and freezers, designed for the caravaning and boating sector, that work directly from 12 V DC. So, there is no excuse.

But this, as so many other self-reliant steps, scare the bejesus out of the power-that-be as it would mean that they and their cronies in the respective industries would no longer have power – in some aspects at least – over the people and will go to any length to block any such attempts.

Only, however, if and when power generating is decentralized, ideally to the house and block level, will the problem that could be caused to the grid, as we know it, be mitigated and even averted. Time for a rethink, as in so many other ways and cases.

© 2013