As Mark Twain would say, the reports are exaggerated.
Charles E. Bayless is a board member at Pike Electric, Recycled Energy Development, and West Virginia American Water. He served previously as chairman, president and CEO of Illinova Corp., its subsidiary Illinois Power, and Tucson Electric Power (UniSource Energy), and as President of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology.
Some have predicted the demise of the grid, as the system gradually transforms into millions of stand-alone renewable units, such as rooftop solar and the like, backed up by batteries or small generators. But in order to obtain the quickest adoption of renewable energy, while retaining the cheapest overall cost, the exact opposite is true. For renewable energy to succeed on a large scale, the grid is indispensable. In truth the grid won't die, but rather must grow exponentially - in function, complexity, and usefulness.
As Mark Twain might have said, on reading of the grid's imminent death, "the reports have been greatly exaggerated."
To understand why this is true requires that we change our view - just as Mr. Scott did in Star Trek when he confessed, "It never occurred to me to think of space as the thing that was moving." We must now start viewing the grid not as a means of delivering bulk power but as the tool that allows the integration and optimization of millions of small and large renewable and backup generators, demand-side management, and loads.
We may not soon achieve transwarp beaming, but once we understand the economics of the grid and the ramifications, we will come to realize that for the age of renewables the grid is indispensable.