Energy Disruptors Unite 2018: Andrew Scobie presents GRID 2.0 The Electricity Grid - Reset, Re-Balanced…Re-Imagined

Energy Disruptors Unite 2018: Andrew Scobie presents GRID 2.0 The Electricity Grid - Reset, Re-Balanced…Re-Imagined

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Speech Notes

15 May 2018

THE FUTURE GRID

  • I am Australian; I come from your future. That isn’t a good thing
  • In the last few years, Australia has crashed its grid 5 times as it has pushed the system to unsustainable levels of renewables
  • Australia has gone from having a competitive advantage in energy to the most expensive in the OECD; it has become one of the least reliable and most emitting energy systems
  • Globally, electricity systems are failing
  • Today’s great economic and environmental challenges cannot possibly be resolved with the 19th century electricity architecture
  • Right now people’s hopes and dreams are being constrained by the energy system’s limitations
  • Energy is literally the ubiquitous input to everything, and constraining access to it is neither rational nor fair. In fact, increasing the cost of energy is deeply regressive impacting the poorest most
  • Almost everyone agrees a new way forward needs to be found
  • That future could be one of greater constraints and costs reducing growth and prosperity
  • Or we can have a world of human flourishing where we can easily, cheaply and cleanly harness the energy we need
  • This is not an aspiration, it is not a dream, it is a practical choice available to us today

HISTORY OF THE GRID - GRID 1.0

  • The biggest and most sophisticated machine in human history didn’t appear out of nowhere
  • It was built on values: cooperation, trust and progress. Values of the Enlightenment
  • The Grid unlocked the greatest economic gains in human history by allowing us to empower our technology. Lifting billions from premodernity’s grinding poverty
  • Before we rush to cast it aside, lets first explore why Grid 1.0 matters
  • It is the central nervous system of our economy
  • Today, I am blessed to live in Edinburgh. The center of what was the Scottish Enlightenment
  • The insights of Adam Smith and David Hume as they witnessed the last great clash of Absolute monarchy with rational modernity
  • Sparked the scientific enquiry that lead from Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell to William Stanley
  • The Grid: the great engineering triumph of the twentieth century is now turning out to be a poor fit for the future
  • The hub and spoke grid is a rigid, passive, one way delivery system, that must prioritise system stability
  • Centrally controlled, it is balanced volumetrically as it attempts to maintain stability and is simply unable to prioritize cost to the consumer
  • Historically electrons and inertia were provided as a bundle, by large principally coal fired generators at the center of the system
  • The limits of the Grid 1.0 are our greatest energy constraint. Is that a big deal?
  • Fundamental Grid innovation stopped 137 years ago when William Stanley invented today’s transformer
  • The transformer enabled an AC network to efficiently transport a stable electrical signal from generator to your door, transforming our world
  • Our values have changed, but the grid has not
  • And yet the grid remains the indispensable central nervous system of our economic and social order
  • The UK Government calculates that if the power is out for 3 days social order breaks down

THE CHALLENGE 

  • Grid 1.0 delivered on its design scope, meeting the values and enabling the hopes and dreams of previous generations
  • Now, Grid 1.0 is being asked to handle variable renewable energy, transport electrons and to balance supply demand in a decentralised world that is increasingly unpredictable
  • All while remaining rigid, passive and fragile
  • But the Grid was only intended to be transportation for an energy system with huge spinning generators at its center providing the essential inertia that stabilised that system
  • In pursuit of our values and ambitions we have crammed the grid full of volatile renewables, and increasingly unpredictable demand, while removing the stabilising central generators
  • Consequence is we are increasingly spending more on balancing costs and expensive Band-Aids that only address symptoms. We are constantly chasing our tail
  • Right now, we are at an historic junction point. The decisions we make about the future of energy could lock us into a path for a century to come
  • While some of us could go off grid, we can’t all go off grid and maintain a viable society
  • If those who could afford to, defect, industry that depends on cheap reliable energy and those least able will be left bearing the cost of our essential nervous system
  • They and we can’t afford that. We are going to have a grid, it is just a matter of good or bad

THE FARADAY GRID 

  • So now, we are left with a positive or negative vision for the future grid
  • Today, most technical advances in energy remain focused on addressing symptoms
  • Grid 2.0 is no more than yesterday’s grid with layers of complexity and fragility added on. We can attempt to out run a storm with an ancient centrally controlled technology. But we are unlikely to succeed.
  • Or we can look to the greatest machine of the 20th century - the Internet
  • We have an opportunity to reimagine the grid according to modern values and make it future proof. Not simply update Grid 1.0 to version 2
  • Grid 2.0 will continue to suffer from central command and control problems. It will reduce future choices
  • Imagine instead the Grid as a platform for Smart Cities, EVs, domestic prosumers competing as suppliers of energy. Competing so well they don’t need to be subsidised
  • The grid as an endless platform for innovation
  • The Internet of Energy - decentralised control and permissionless innovation
  • The internet creates an evolving space for innovation, cheaper prices and greater security
  • The Faraday Grid is the internet of energy
  • A system of decentralised control that puts the grid at the centre of our energy system
  • Built on Faraday Exchangers, they provide the inertia that allows it to be agnostic to the nature of supply and demand
  • dynamically balancing power flow, voltage, power factor, and phase, it removes all harmonics
  • A plug and play device it drops in to Grid 1.0 replacing transformers, just as we dropped routers in to create the internet without disturbing the telephone system
  • As we demonstrated at our 2017 launch we can double the amount of renewables while reducing the cost of energy to consumers
  • Faraday Grid comes preloaded with Emergent
  • Emergent is a transactive grid protocol that will enable consumers, utilities, disruptors and generators to buy and sell energy at the lowest marginal price

CONCLUSION

  • Faraday Grid is an energy system that enables rather than constrains human ambition
  • It carries price signals that tell us when and where it is valuable to produce, store and consume energy – now we can price energy as a service rather than as a commodity
  • Our future doesn’t need to be more fragile, expensive and vulnerable
  • We can have a low carbon future of greater prosperity and human choice
  • This isn’t a vision, it is a reality that Faraday Grid are taking forward with our partners including global utilities, renewable generators, storage providers and disruptors around the world

 

  • We would welcome you on that journey

 

Andrew Scobie presented at Energy Disruptors Unite 2018 on May 15.

Learn more about the event HERE