The grid as an emergency supply?

It’s official. Finally Spain has the most toll-intensive consumer power generation (what is called self-consumption) law in the world. The so-called “sun tax” is in place.

It is important to understand the worries of the regulator here;

Given the high fixed costs of the system, further reductions of electricity demand (as with self-consumption) increase the price of energy in a Grid independence cycle. The goal of increasing the toll on self-consumption is to ensure the system costs are covered, delay the implementation of self-consumption (starting in the islands and small systems), delay consumer energy storage (in fact it is also a “battery tax”) and (try to) avoid further political problems. Of course, it is not the best solution, academics and regulatory experts agree that politically fixed costs that have to be paid by all citizens shouldn’t be in the tariff but evenly paid from the nation’s bugdet (like the extra-costs for electricity in the islands).

Image by Cancia Leirissa on freeimages.com

“Grid Emergency Exit”                                                       Image by Cancia Leirissa on freeimages.com

What are the consequences? Rising prices, and the fact that fixed costs (for the contracted power) are surging, push the active consumer to look for the following solutions:

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Democratization of power generation – The ongoing innovation

There is quite some discussion on the subject of energy independence and energy democracy recently (for example, this article, or the lateral power concept from Rifkin’s TIR or the initiative from Energy Democracy TV). I’d like to post my “vote” for energy democracy and explain why it is an inevitable transition and an ongoing innovation, from dependent to empowered (literally) prosumers.

Increased energy independence of a country normally refers to a reduction of oil imports, mainly benefitial to trade balance, but it is not so straight-forward how an individual benefits of this country’s independence. If, for example, the change reduces his gas or electricity bill, he will be, but if the energy he purchases is still from the same utility at the same price, is he any more independent?

Another way of understanding energy independence concept is the “off-grid-ing”, islanding both from the network and utilities, through renewables plus storage and/or electric vehicle, for example. I’m relatively against this as it is opposed to the networked economy, where interdependence and cooperation benefits all stakeholders. It also is economically inefficient as there has to be additional generation&storage dimensioned for off-grid availability. The same self-sufficient user interconnected, even in peer-to-peer networks or communities, needs less investment, can have additional income from selling power, and has more security of supply from other generators.

This brings us back to the point of energy democracy, on who generates power and who has access to it? There lies the innovation on energy democratization. On the following video from innovation and market we can have a look at innovation process:

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