Smart grids: Clever, but unprincipled

The Economist hat einen netten Leader zum Thema Smart Grids: Smart grids: Clever, but unprincipled | The Economist


As Mr Obama put it when urging Congress to pass the stimulus bill, a smart grid “will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation.”

Spending lots of money on smart grids, however, will not bring about any of those things by itself. The technology is not inherently frugal or green. It can be used to deliver not just clean renewable energy more efficiently, but also the grubby coal-fired sort. By reducing the need for expensive backup capacity, it may actually reduce the cost of electricity, and so encourage consumption. The very fact that utilities and their customers, tree-huggers and industrialists alike are all keen on it hints at the many different ends to which it can be turned. [..]

Moreover, the biggest impediment to the spread of renewables in most countries is not an antiquated grid, but the lack of a price on carbon. Consumers waste power not just because they cannot regulate their spending very precisely, but also because it often does not cost very much. Most utilities have an incentive to sell as much power as they can, dirty or clean.

In short, smart grids are not a substitute for a proper energy policy.

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