Early power stations served local power grids. Perhaps the earliest one belonged to a wealthy British aristocrat. In 1868, Lord Armstrong used water from his lakes to power a private elevator and boil water for his bath. The first commercial station was in London, England. Thomas Edison used a steam engine to power houses he could reach in 1882 without digging up the roads.
Are Power Stations and Grids the Best Solution?
The idea spread to American cities across the continent. Over time, their power stations connected to form a national grid. From there, branch lines spread out into rural areas. And so America became electrified, albeit not entirely efficiently. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates 5% of electricity is lost to friction in distribution cables. Moreover, electricity utilities are large clunky institutions with high overheads.
So Ought We to Return to Local Power Grids?
A small, but increasing number of Americans think so. When a large grid goes down, millions of people are affected. In a worst-case scenario they can be alone in freezing weather for several days. Frustrated homeowners are turning to solar collectors and storage batteries to tide themselves over power outages.
This renewable power may work out cheaper in the long run and they have been selling surplus electricity to their utility. Now, some residents of Brooklyn, New York City want to connect in local small local power grids. They are finding the power of sharing is drawing local communities back together the way things used to be.
The Brooklyn, New York City Model for Shared Power
The Brooklyn Micro-Grid project is in its infancy. Currently 50 residents have strung rooftop arrays together so they can exchange power by trading on Blockchain. In time, the idea of privately owned small power grids could spread further. Naturally they will need storage batteries to manage peaks and valleys.
Preview Image: Work in Progress