The existing grid has a number of problems, among them:
- The wide area grid is susceptible to cascading failures - The energy grid has been developed with extensive interconnections and grids often spanning continents. The purpose of this interconnection is to improve reliability through redundancy, yet in fact increases the risk of wide area failures because any imbalance can be propagated quickly over an ever widening area.
- Grid stability cannot be maintained with >30% penetration of renewables – Although many regions are mandating 20-30% of renewable energy, many experts believe that voltage/frequency stability cannot be maintained at such levels if predominately variable wind and solar generation.
- Grid capacity is saturated in many locations and requires additional transmission lines – The cost and environmental impact of new transmission lines is considerable, yet still is planned as the only alternative in locations from California to Texas. However, these new lines only defer the stability and reliability problems.For grid reliability, transmission assets are sometimes deployed in duplicate, then used at low capacity in case of failure – the planned under-utilization of expensive assets is wasteful. Alternative pathways to assure reliability should use redundancy such as is commonplace in the internet, and does not require under utilized assets.
- Wide-area grid topography results in inefficient energy flows by routing around mountains and lakes– energy flows across the grid according to Ohm’s law, and often takes undesirable detours due to geographic features, wasting transmission capacity.
- Energy flows cannot be identified or traced- Energy flows into and out of the grid at millions of points, and there is no tracing of the energy. This makes it impossible for a user to ascertain that they are in fact using green energy. This also makes it difficult to allocate expenses for transmission appropriately.