Smart Grid Less Important Than Building More Power
Mar 9, 2009 - Jay Yarow - The Business
the Wall Street Journal venture
capitalist Vinod Khosla, says "90% of the senators
in Washington" don't know the difference between a
smart grid and merely building transmission lines.
If you're in that group, the difference
is simple. Building the transmission lines is just
building the capability for electricity to flow over
power lines. The smart grid allows for information
to travel across those power lines as well, meaning
that your home or business can communicate energy
usage with the utility company in real time. In that
way the utility can charge tiered rates for hourly
energy usage like a phone company. For example, when
more people need energy during the day, rates are
higher. At night when most are asleep, energy rates
are lower. A smart grid also helps make energy use
more efficient and allows high voltage power to travel
through electic lines. (Smart
grid explained here.)
Khosla says that the transmission lines
are "10 times more important" than the smart grid.
The reason for that is getting energy from remote
wind and solar installations to more urban and suburban
areas can't be done without more power lines. Khosla
also says we don't need the government to build the
power lines. We merely need the government to clear
the way for private industry to build power lines.
If the government can solve eminent-domain problems,
then we'll get the power lines we need.
Khosla also threw out this cool, non-grid
Maybe I can give you a very specific example. I
did a little analysis. If we said we want to replace
all gasoline in this country by 2030, it's only
22 years. How much capital would it take? Far less
per year than we invested in telecom during the
telecom 10-year boom. That's pretty amazing statistics.