The electrical grid functions, but it certainly is in need of some major restructuring, restrengthening and some added resistance if it is to last. In matters of sustainable development, serious consideration needs to be given to Point of Use electrical power generating systems. There are a surprisingly large varieties and selections of these units on the open markets and commercially available, even at the time of this writing.
Given the prevalence of the natural gas production on site, the majority of the Point Of Use electrical power generators considered to date, do run on propane, or natural gas. Forced turbine generators look like a very reasonable possibility, though there are currently advances being made in propane operated fuel cells that also looks extremely promising. Any household capable of producing twenty-five kilowatts on site should never lack for electrical energy.
Furthermore, the utilization of Point of Use technologies will greatly reduce the number of long, metallic power lines, just waiting for the next Coronal Mass Ejection to occur and burn out everything attached to that power line. While it may not afford the same protection against an Electro Magnetic Pulse or EMP, it would certainly offer more than just a modicum of protection against the more likely natural occurrences.
If there is any real weak point in such an electrical system, it tends to be the batteries. Traditional lead-acid batteries are exceptionally harsh on the environment in every aspect from production to disposal. Lithium Ion batteries seem like a viable solution, unless one looks at the mining process, and then considers the implications of usage. Lithium batteries, like many things, tend to expand when they heat up … as they do in common use. When these batteries expand, they split, exposing them to oxygen and generating a great little flamethrower in the process … not exactly a strong selling point for commercial buildings, and given the environmental concerns, not really a great option either.
Abu Dhabi is conducting experiments of a sort, with the use of Sodium Sulfur batteries that looks very promising. There is not currently a sufficient amount of information available to make any meaningful judgment regarding such a technology at this time. However, at such a time as viable, sustainable and environmentally “friendly” batteries do become available, Point of Use Electrical Power Generators should be introduced as the standard norm and not as the proverbial exception to the rule. The electrical grid in its current state is far too vulnerable to remain a viable option, much less to be extended into the realm of Whole System Sustainable Development.