Thursday, October 10, 2013

This is the Future

In these pages, we have talked some about distributed power generation, which I believe is the future of power generation.  I don't think we will ever get rid of big power plants, but I think more and more generation will be decentralized.

One of our nation's greatest vulnerabilities is the power grid. Anyone who has lived through a hurricane knows this first hand.  When thinking of distributed generation, many people think of solar panels, but in recent years, fuel cell technology has advanced significantly.  There are many brilliant people working for well funded groups (business and government entities) out there continuing to push boundaries in power generation.  We see time and time again that where there is an identifiable problem with a potentially lucrative outcome, American (and other nationality) innovators will come out of the woodwork to develop new technology.

Case in point is Redox Power Systems, which is developing its Cube solid oxide fuel cell based on technology developed at the University of Maryland.  The company plans to bring the Cube to market in 2014.  (Read more about it and DG here - look for slide show under company overview.)

The Cube uses natural gas (so you know I like it) to generate electricity for a home or commercial building.  It is approximately 10% the size of fuel cells currently being used and generates less heat.  Except for production the source fuel, it generates no harmful emissions and can be sized to power buildings from the size of a house to a larger commercial structure.

The greatest vulnerability and inefficiency in power generation is in the transport grid.  Fuel cells like this will still depend on transported natural gas, so it's not perfect, but when it comes to continuous power at home, I'm much more comfortable with my gas delivery system than my electricity.  Ultimately, people who have the resources and desire will take control of power generation to help control cost (not necessarily lower them) and control the continuity of power delivery.

Perhaps best of all, it doesn't work on coal. This is a trend worth watching.

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