Over at the progressive Grist site in November, there was an article posted on the comparative advantage of North America and China in energy systems. It makes for an interesting read.
These days the American Dream seems a touch haggard. We’ve become an anxious, ill-tempered nation of grievance-peddlers, drunk on fairy tales, waiting for someone else to solve our problems. Among other infantalizing features of modern American life is the fact that we are passive, thoughtless consumers of energy, forever suckling at a far-away teat, whether it’s foreign oil producers or politically connected corporate behemoths. We send money out of our communities; someone sends power in. We are as dependent as sheep.
One step toward regaining our sense of civic engagement and self-determination would be to widely distribute the means of making and managing energy, to empower bottom-up rather than top-down innovation. Our communities can never truly govern themselves if they have no control over their own power. Let China have the Three Gorges Dam. Let’s show the world, again, that democracy can work.
The sentiment contained in the above statement is a strong argument in favour of investing in Smart Grids and Distributed Energy. In North America, we succeed when markets are open and competitive so that innovation can occur. Is it not time we adopted a policy and regulatory approach that plays to our strengths instead of being a mimic of the highly concentrated, top-down control model that prevails among utility systems in China?