No surprise then, the past sentiments of “climate change” were largely absent from this year’s discussions. Instead, the deliberations focussed on the new and coming marvels of modern technologies and thinking.
Let’s look at one of the ideas floated already last year, like “Grid Edge Technology,” one of the themes of up-and-coming developments.
On the Edge of the Grid
Grid edge technologies (GETs) are the next big thing, according to a recent study led by the World Economic Forum. It’s best explained with a graph by Roberto Bocca, Head of Energy and Basic Industry at the WEF, as shown nearby.
According to Bocca’s interview with Kristen Panerali, Head of Electricity Industry, WEF, it’s worth a staggering sum of US$ 2.4 trillion. So, exactly, what is meant by “Grid edge technologies?” You’ll find the answer at the bottom right of the graph:
Decentralized penetration, storage, smart meters, [and] electric vehicles.
If you haven’t noticed yet, there is a fundamental difference between the noted five technologies on the left (telephone, radio, etc.) that are referring to application and uses of electricity. In contrast, the one on the right (Grid edge technologies) refers to electricity generation and storage, etc.
As Bocca explains it:
The value chain of the electricity system will effectively change.
Wishy-washy statements by sous-politicians are my favored readings, right after nonsensical claims by some politicians that think the “electricity grid acts as an energy storage place.”
What it really means
What the jumble-mumble really means is that you can no longer rely on uninterrupted power from the grid and, in fact, you are supposed to add power to it from your “decentralized” system. Ms. Panerali describes it as “better asset utilization.”
The WEF explains it in such glowing terms as:
These trends are presently at the “grid edge”—smart and connected technologies at the end of the electric power grid. They encompass all of the major technologies—such as distributed storage, distributed generation, smart meters, smart appliances, and electric vehicles—that are impacting the electricity system.
For consumers, the roll-out of grid-edge technologies will enable customers to take the center stage of the electricity system. Under the right price signals and market design, customers will be able to produce their own electricity, store it, and then consume it at a cheaper time or sell it back to the grid. Such a system will even allow peer-to-peer decentralized transactions.
In practice, as I reckon, the novel grid edge technologies comprise ideas like your (electric) vehicle becoming a storage unit for surplus power when the wind blows or the sun shines and, alternatively, when neither one is the case, you may need to ask the community “Blockwart” for permission to drive your vehicle instead of recharging the grid with its stored electric energy.
A word of explanation to my dear readers, most of whom may be unfamiliar with the term “Blockwart.” That is a German language term, literally translated to “block leader” or similar, where “block” refers to a city block or a small village part, and “leader” (officially) meant group-chair but really meant spy or snoop. This common vocabulary term came about during the Nazi era in Germany and, after WWII, was “perfected” by apparatchiks for government control in the then communist East Germany. It was a time when children in Kindergarten (German spelling of the term) were taught to snoop on their parents, for example, to tell the Blockwart about their parents’ (then forbidden) listening to broadcasts from Radio Free Europe, and the like.
I trust you get the drift; welcome to the new world of smart grid edge technologies.