Decentralized power generation possibilities

Decentralization of power generation has the potential to improve upon energy use efficiency, helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions and provide additional energy security (E.ON UK, plc. 2014). Rather than having only limited, yet massive, power generation sites and transmitting energy over a great distance, energy may be generated and distributed by smaller facilities reducing loss and waste (Casten, Jan. & Feb. 2005). Local communities will benefit from geographically driven solutions taking advantage of an area’s unique ecosystem and resources. Decentralization in and of itself does not prohibit any particular form of energy development; it merely focuses the efforts of the best solution in each unique locale. This is a big shift, however, spurred by improvements in technology that could change the structure of the energy utility company as it exists today. Current energy utility companies may find themselves shifting to a project management type role in helping to coordinate and maintain transmission generation from smaller, more local generators (Koerth-Baker, April 6, 2012).

Companies that are focused on research and development, environmental consultants, financial advisors, maintenance, and, of course, political and policy consulting firms will all be in great demand. This is also a time when technology improvements may increase significantly with a more competitive business environment. It is likely we will see breakthroughs in storage and computer technology opening the door to new companies that will service the infrastructure. One of the more interesting opportunities may well lie in bringing together local, regional, and national efforts ensuring efficiency while maintaining a broad focus aimed at economic, social and environmental sustainability. Policy issues and solutions will evolve over time as deemed necessary. A company well versed in regulatory affairs and the intricacies of public policy will be necessary to keep this new energy delivery structure moving forward.


Casten, T. R., & Downes, B. (2005, Jan. & Feb.). Critical thinking about energy: The case for decentralized generation of electricity. Skeptical Inquirer, 29(1). Retrieved from

Koerth-Baker, M. (2012, April 6). What we talk about when we talk about the decentralization of energy. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

What is decentralized energy? (2014). e-on. E.ON UK plc. Retrived from


4 thoughts on “Decentralized power generation possibilities

  1. Hi Jennifer. I thought your post was very thoughtful. I’ve noticed in many of our posts the reference to utilities needing to change or becoming losers in some way (primarily in the financial arena). I agree that the traditional electricity model will change in order to accommodate micro grids and decentralized generation. It has to change. What we haven’t figured out is how to accomplish that transition, what role the utility will play in the transition and what the utility model will look like in the future. I don’t see the utilities going away. I just think they will be a different model. Perhaps your idea of the utility shifting into a role of project management has merit. Regardless, it seems to me that no matter what we do, we need to be thinking about how to keep reasonable profit margins for the utilities — because we will need them in some capacity in the future.

    Here’s a link to my post:

    • Hi Christy,
      I agree with you that the utility companies are not going anywhere any time soon! I think we just need to determine what role they will play and, as you say, how they maintain a reasonable profit margin. Certainly, all businesses change and those that will not or cannot will not remain in business. But, the utilities that can embrace the innovation and an evolving energy industry are those that can get ahead of the curve.
      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment!


  2. Hi Jennifer,
    I am curious to see how the utility companies handle the changes that lie ahead. The power generation companies are very concerned about the future. The amount of money they spend on lobbyists should be used in developing the smart grid. I hope that government policy will begin to favor renewables more, so that we can begin to reduce emissions and actually begin to construct a smart grid.
    I think it will take several years before this happens though. I think the politicians are too easily influenced by the utilities and other energy giants to change energy policy soon.
    What type of timeline do you think until smart grid construction?

    Here is a link to my post:

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post! I agree that, from my readings, it seems power generation companies are unsure as to what role they will fill in the future energy market. However, I do not think that evolving into a decentralized system means the elimination of fossil fuels by any means. We simply have to find ways to do things cleaner and more efficiently than in the past. While I am sure that renewables play a huge role in our energy future, no one energy source will be the solution. I believe this to be a package deal and it is important to consider not just the environmental issues, but our energy security as well.


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