Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Grid

The Grid: The Fraying Lines Between Americans and Our Energy Future
© 2016 Gretchen Bakke
384 pages

The Grid is a brief history of how our present electrical network evolved in the  United States,  an layman-friendly analysis of its weaknesses -- some inherent, some developed over time as demand soared and different areas of the country made their own adaptations -- and a look at the future of the grid. Bakke imagines nano- and micro-grids will become much more common -- in part because it's increasingly affordable to generate one's own power through solar panels,  and in part because as the system continues to age it will be necessary out of self-defense.  "But wait," you said, "Solar panels and wind turbines only work part of the time!"     Bakke acknowledges this, but is hopeful that the ever-evolving Internet of Things, and especially the allegedly inevitable rise of electronic cars,  will  allow for more evenly-dispersed power distribution, as we continue to contrive ways of storing electricity for future release.   In Alabama, for instance, one station uses electricity to compress air during the day, and then at night the compressed air is released and used to power turbines.  Said station uses nearby salt caverns for storage, and that's a rare enough resource that this station is literally the only one of its kind in the United States.  Not exactly a repeatable approach, but it's only one example of how determined engineers can flank the problem of 'storing' electricity.

I owe this one a re-read because  my brain checked out 70% through. Usually I enjoy reading about infrastructure, but I just tired of the subject here.



  1. Wow! This one sounds like a great read - at least if you're interested in the development of technology. As a fan of Tesla I think that I'd like Empires of Light too.

    1. With a personal interest in Tesla it's quite possible you would like it more than I did, as it's largely biography.


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