SAN MATEO, Calif.--Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore hopes that America's next-generation power grid will be a lot like the Internet. Or at least that's the plan.
How close we get to that goal depends on what happens in the next five years, Gore said in a speech here on Thursday evening at blog VentureBeat's GreenBeat conference, where he outlined many of the challenges the United States faces in upgrading its power grid. Along the way, he made comparisons to how the advent of the so-called smart grid will enable the kind of solutions and business innovation that the Internet brought during the 1990s.
"The analogy to the Internet is quite an exact one. Not completely exact, but it's very relevant for lots of reasons. We are moving inexorably toward a widely distributed energy generation and storage model. We are still locked into the old centralized energy generation model," Gore said. "The rapid development of new generations of new smart storage systems are going to make a tremendous difference in connection with the smart grids." Those systems are designed to enable easier storage of unused electricity for peak times, when supplying it to large groups of customers can be difficult and more expensive.
Gore also foresees an entirely new set of devices and instruments to help utilities and consumers control and monitor usage--technology and business models that may not yet have been imagined. "(It's) much the same way the Internet made it possible to see this generation of Internet-ready devices that did not even exist before the Internet began to build out," Gore said.… Read more