Nicolas this should be a hot topic in Europe where the emissions trading scheme is faltering, where as yet there is no supergrid but where countries are facing highly individual energy situations. Poland with its plentiful supplies of lignite is proposing a move to nuclear power. Germany is phasing out its nuclear power plants in an energy turnaround. And Britain, which had 30 years of North Sea oil to be prepared, and where energy prices rose 30% in three years is facing an energy crunch. In this context generating and storing your own electricity has to be appealing to consumers. The mini and micro grids would be great for Africa where it is costly to be hooked up to the grid.
Then a European supergrid using high voltage DC opens up the possibility of moving around a lot more electricity as DC (solar energy from the sunny south and wind energy from the west). Germany has one line scheduled for conversion in 2019. Both could co-exhisted but again (for Europe) it needs coherent policies.
I cannot imagine high voltage DC lines. High voltage DC can be obtained by putting DC generators in series. But what about transportation and what about the use of this high voltage DC?
AC voltage only permits the use of voltage transformers at both ends of a line so that the thermal losses are minimized.
The more I see the grid, the more I see the state of the telephone industry, 40 to 50 years ago. It was old, outdated and couldn't handle the amount of traffic it was witnessing after WWII.
Since then, the Internet came along and solved most of the bottle necks. A decentralized systems means no single point of failure. IP and TCP packets means no matter which route they take, they will be reassembled in order at the final destination. So what can the grid learn and take away from the Internet's structure?
Surely the grid is evolving toward building micro-grids. But what about mini-grids, those on apartment complex rooftops, tied to micro-grids, themselves tied to the grid? That would imply utilities and their energy controllers would have to move away from energy production to that of management.
I was wondering what were your thoughts.