Wind and Renewable Energy: What is “Distributed Generation”

When talking about renewable energy, the topic of “Distributed Generation” comes up as another positive.  Distributed generation is the opposite of what our current electric grid currently is.  We currently have a “central” or “concentrated” generation system, whereby larger and larger amounts of energy are generated in larger and larger power plants in fewer and fewer locations.


Some problems with this:


  • Easy target for terrorism 
  • Electricity has “line loss”.   The further it must travel, the more is “lost in transmission”.
  • Centralized generation puts strains on our barely-adequate electric grid by causing power to be moved over great distances.   

With distributed generation, as in smaller power plants spread out in more locations, we get:


  • Less line loss, so more usable (and billable) electricity for our buck, thus less needs to be generated (in different locations including the centralized one!) to produce the same result. 
  • Less strain on the grid as electricity can be “locally grown and used”, so to speak.
  • Each is a redundancy backup source if another fails along the grid.



Don’t worry, I’m not picking on the electric grid (the people keeping it running are working absolute miracles!), I think pretty much ALL our infrastructure is falling apart and is always in a state of “just-barely-adequate-to-get-by”!  That includes roads, bridges, and especially telecommunications.  Good examples: during the recent east coast earthquake, if you were not one of the first to pick up your cell phone to reach out and say “did you feel that?”, within the first 30 seconds or so, most people report being unable to make a call due to busy circuits.   Come on now, what are we going to do in a real, widespread emergency?!!


 More to come…






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