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Decentralisation of energy generation

This was published in 2017. It may contain outdated information, broken links, and views I no longer hold.

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I’m only just clocking on to how great solar power is. As I write this, it’s 9:30 a.m. on February 16th; the sun is pouring through my kitchen window and on to the solar panels of the house a few doors down.

Live, as I type, solar across Great Britain is generating an estimated 1.73 GW of energy, supplying 4.2% of our demand.

I say ‘estimated’ because there’s currently no sure-fire way of measuring solar power. PV_Live at the University of Sheffield is working on patching some of the statistical gap, but their method doesn’t tally, like other forms of energy generation, a 100% accurate and precise figure.

Unlike other energy sources that feed their way into the National Grid, solar is a decentralised form of energy generation. The panels sit on rooftops across the country but barely any communicate data to a central source.

Decentralised energy is not yet a widely understood term, but broadly refers to energy that is generated off the main grid, including micro-renewables, heating and cooling. - The Carbon Trust

Bitcoin, the digital currency everyone was so fanatical about two years ago, was touted as the ‘future of money’ for not relying on a central bank or federal reserve. Instead, everyone using Bitcoin became its bank. The idea is that no government or single entity could control money. Whoever controls the money controls the people.

Solar is on a par. Whoever controls the energy, controls your use of it. You can go on Amazon, or check out a more reputable solar retailer, and buy panels. Cheap ones that strap onto backpacks to charge your mobile phone. Expensive ones that strap on to high-rises to power your building.

After set-up, solar is free. The sun shines - and you have power. Carbon-free, pollution free, free power. Solar power can even make you money.

How am I only just clocking on to how great solar power is?

In France in 2015, the government made it illegal for any new flat roof to be barren. Flat roofs of newly built commercial buildings or apartment blocks had to have either a roof-top garden or solar panels.

So as I look out of my window at the panels just down the road, I smile, knowing my neighbours are on the forefront – the cutting-edge of energy generation – and that we are all being blessed by this sunny day.

In the time it’s taken me to finish this blog post, the amount of energy solar is supplying has increased. Solar is generating 3.27 GW, supplying 9% of GB’s demand.

Decentralised energy generation is the future.

19 February 2017

My monthly dispatches recap what I've been up to. Get updates in your podcast app.

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