New energy grid would share what’s available


Making Ripples

There have been many times when the structure of society has dramatically changed. Where once there were mud roads upon which horses pulled wagons, now there are interstate highways with vehicles. The internet revolutionized the world in a way similar to the Industrial Revolution. Now, there are efforts to combine these concepts into a sustainable network of renewable electricity worldwide. The technology is already being applied to current non-renewable power grids to modernize them, reduce electricity waste and maximize efficiency.

Like the internet, which connects people in distant parts of the world, the energy internet would connect power sources to consumers in distant places. This is already seen to some extent in how “the grid” operates. The grid, or the physical network of wires and structures that allows electricity to flow into our buildings, must generate and transport that energy. To be off-grid means to generate your own power on site, rather than bringing it in from elsewhere. The energy internet is like the opposite of off-grid, but this new idea only uses renewable sources of electricity, including such variations as solar, wind, hydro, thermal and nuclear.

Wherever the power is being abundantly generated, the excess would be moved to locations not generating enough power to meet demand. These networks would cross national boundaries and continents. It may seem like electricity sharing between nations at odds with each other would be a poor strategy, but some world leaders see the opportunity to reduce conflict and increase collaboration so that electricity is maintained, rather than being cut off.

One of the biggest obstacles for renewable energy has been transporting and storing it, but now, the time has come when technology has caught up. It’s possible to transport power longer distances than before and store it more easily. The main obstacle today? Political and industrial interests. But that’s not stopping everyone.

The systems may never be perfect, but it’s encouraging to know some entire countries are already powered at or near 100 percent by renewable sources of electricity: Albania, Costa Rica, Iceland and Paraguay, to name a few. (Meanwhile, the United States has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement.)

This new revolution, perhaps unsurprisingly, is focused primarily on energy and thus comes with challenges. Some projects have displaced indigenous peoples, damaged landscapes and disrupted ecosystems. Ironically, the renewable power grid designed to save the environment (by powering the world without polluting energy like coal) may also harm the environment. The answer is not to step backwards and further embrace destructive human practices, but to move forward with every solution we can apply while mitigating (or eliminating) potential harm.

Amanda Bancroft is a writer, artist, and naturalist living in an off-grid tiny house on Kessler Mountain. She and her husband Ryan blog about their adventures and offer tips to those wanting to make a difference at

Categories: Making Ripples