Centralized vs. Distributed Generation

Centralized Generation has been the predominant power distribution system in the United States for a long time but there seems to be many drawbacks to this plan and many more reasons to switch to a distributed generation system.
Centralized generation is what you typically think of when you think of a power plant, whether it be coal, natural gas or large scale solar. This involves a large factory where electricity is produced, usually situated far away from the end user. Many times, these projects face hurdles such as “not in my back yard” from communities and opposition from environmental groups because the project must be built away from civilization and usually ends up destroying precious natural habitat. The projects can be an eyesore, produce pollution, and are generally inefficient due to the distance the electricity must travel before it gets to the users.
Distributed generation has been gaining traction in recent years, especially in the solar community because these projects are small and convenient. An example would be solar panels on top of a building that would use the electricity produced. It just makes sense. Now picture solar panels on the roof of every building in New York City – some buildings would use more energy than others and the excess energy could be sold back to the grid through the use of net metering. Distributed generation also makes sense from a security standpoint because the power source is spread out over a wide geographic region and less vulnerable to a single occurrence. As anyone who lived in the northeast during the 2003 Blackout remembers, something as simple as overheated wires touching a tree branch can cause power failure for millions. This is simply unacceptable. Long term, we need to move towards smarter development and community planning, but in the short term net metering can reduce our energy costs as well as allow us to sell energy back to the grid during peak hours. Who wouldn’t like to get a check from their utility every month?

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3 thoughts on “Centralized vs. Distributed Generation

  1. Pingback: The Air Up There . . . | Mr. Greenbacks

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