Wanted: An Electrical Grid That Looks Like the Internet

All the coal industry's money has not been able to stem the growth of renewable energy and distributed generation. For the electricity grid, the future is already here.

1 minute read

June 2, 2017, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

electricity infrastructure

OiMax / Flickr

Michael J. Coren surveys the scene with the U.S. electricity grid, detailing the almost-complete overhaul of the nation's electricity infrastructure in recent years. The days of centralized production, with users mostly out of the loop on the economics of the market, are over. "Solar and wind power generation is so affordable now that many consumers can be producers as well as consumers," writes Coren. The electricity gird is being rapidly redesigned, based on entirely new principles.

According to Coren, "investments in solar, wind, and storage comprised the majority of new money flowing into US energy infrastructure in 2016," and algorithms "can now trade electricity to procure and deliver the cheapest power in real-time."

To many, the electricity grid resembles another kind of grid: the Internet. Now too, utilities are starting to resemble Internet start-ups. Coren's case in point:

Drift launched one of New York’s newest utility and electricity retailers. The team of self-described “software engineers and athletes,” registered as an utility and energy services company under state and federal authorities. is buying, trading and selling energy. By putting electricity management and trading under one roof, it claims it can optimize for price rather than just reliability.

Like an Internet start-up, Drift is attracting investment funding from Silicon Valley companies.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 in Quartz

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