Another Boost for DG

Today's efforts to boost electricity-transmission capacity might be better addressed through incorporating more distributed-generation resources than by building new transmission lines, argues a new book published by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Entitled Small is Profitable, the book suggests that the large central-plant scheme on which today's electricity-production systems are based no...

12/01/2002


Today's efforts to boost electricity-transmission capacity might be better addressed through incorporating more distributed-generation resources than by building new transmission lines, argues a new book published by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). Entitled Small is Profitable , the book suggests that the large central-plant scheme on which today's electricity-production systems are based no longer make sense.

The authors, a group of RMI researchers and consultants, state that the central-plant model was developed during a time when the transmission systems were more reliable than the power plants. System designers tied multiple plants together with a large-scale transmission grid to help ensure reliability if any single plant went down. The authors say that today's transmission lines have become stretched to their performance limits, while small generating-facility performance has increased markedly. This makes producing power at the local or on-site level a better financial decision than fighting the battles required to increase current transmission capacity.

The authors believe more holistic cost-benefit analyses of distributed generation's value will lead more facilities to incorporate fuel cells, cogeneration plants, photovoltaic cells and other distributed-generation equipment. Such analyses, which would include such factors as portability, low fuel-price volatility and better fault management, would give a better picture of the current system's true costs, claim the authors. They go on to list 207 specific benefits distributed generation can offer.

The book can be accessed online at: www.smallisprofitable.org .

From Pure Power, Winter 2002





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