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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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The ‘unstoppable’ renewable grid

The ‘unstoppable’ renewable grid | green streets |

U.S. natural gas prices are rising, while wind and solar are growing rapidly. The global transition to mostly renewable grid power may now be unstoppable...

'The energy transition juggernaut I previewed last May is rolling on unabated, despite U.S. natural gas prices falling to 10-year lows last year. According to a new Gallup poll, two-thirds of Americans would like to see more emphasis on solar, wind and natural gas, while less than half of them support more emphasis on nuclear, oil and coal.

In addition to popular sentiment, installations of renewable generation are proceeding apace.According to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [PDF], the United States installed more power generation capacity from wind than for any other power source in 2012: 10,700 megawatts (MW), 23 percent more than natural gas (8,700 MW) and more than double the new coal capacity (4,500 MW). New solar capacity grew by 1,500 MW, a 31 percent increase over 2011.

It seems that the widespread belief that cheap natural gas would kill the growth of renewables — which I always viewed skeptically and never found convincing data to support — didn’t have much substance after all...'

Lance LeTellier's curator insight, April 8, 2013 9:20 AM

I think we just export more as prices go up.

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The Smart Grid in 2013: Charged for Growth

The Smart Grid in 2013: Charged for Growth | green streets |

In the past year, the grid has seen some remarkable highs, while also being tested to meet the basic needs of society.

On one hand, big advances have flourished, fundamentally changing the way we power our lives. Roof-mounted solar panels have gone from a costly oddity to a competitive selling point for many homes and battery-powered vehicles have gained traction.

On the other hand, the idea of progress has been challenged by a slew of weather woes that have shaken consumer confidence in our energy infrastructure. A series of intense storms, heat waves and drought made 2012 one of the toughest years globally for the grid in many years.

So what will 2013 bring? The growth of the smart grid.

A new stage is opening - where the public was once ambivalent about the smart grid, consumers are now starting to demand these improvements, spurred by the need to improve reliability, participation and the resiliency to recover from large-scale grid events.

Going into the new year, pressure to rebuild the northeast's grid with more resilience will further boost trends that point towards investment in these smart technologies to continue to expand by over 10% over the next five years.
And while efforts to date have focused on improving the grid's heavy-duty backbone, a look ahead suggests that coming smart grid efforts will reach more directly into everyday life.

Here's what's in store for 2013...

Lauren Moss's insight:

An interesting look at the future of the smart grid, renewable energy and the trends that are shaping the development of these technologies in the coming year.

In addition to energy generation, the article examines infrastructure, energy storage, distributed generation, public awareness, and social networks as communication tools...

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Smart Grid and Energy Storage Installations Rising Worldwide

Smart Grid and Energy Storage Installations Rising Worldwide | green streets |

Global investment in smart grid technologies rose 7 percent in 2012 from the previous year. On top of direct investments, numerous countries around the world are making headway on smart grid regulatory policies, development plans, and frameworks to support future grid infrastructure upgrades.

Smart grids consist of many different technologies serving different functions. They are commonly defined as an electricity network that uses digital information and communications technology to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transport. Such modernized grids are becoming more important as current grid infrastructure ages and regions begin connecting more variable generation from renewable energy sources into the electricity network...

Via Joan Tarruell, Stephane Bilodeau
Laurence Serfaty's comment, March 3, 2013 8:28 AM
Norm Miller's comment, March 3, 2013 1:52 PM
For smart grids to really work we need ways to store energy more efficiently, i.e. better batteries. When will large scale better batteries become available? What's on the horizon for energy storage?
Joan Tarruell's comment, March 3, 2013 2:34 PM
Another possibility is to use the energy generated by instantaneous sources (wind, sun, waves) before origins occurring storable (gas, coal, water reservoirs, etc.)
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Order and adaptation: What the New York grid teaches us about contemporary urbanism

Order and adaptation: What the New York grid teaches us about contemporary urbanism | green streets |

It’s not quite true that Manhattan’s street grid is two hundred years old. In fact the year 2011 marked the bicentennial of the project of establishing a regular and continuous grid north of 14th Street. The plan was at first far-fetched, authoritarian, and utopian. For the grid started out as an elaborate Cartesian fantasy, a diagram seemingly irreconcilable with the material realities of topography and existing settlement in the young city of New York. The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011, an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York (through April 15), shows how an abstract plan came to serve as the “remarkably flexible framework for 200 years of city living.” Curator Hilary Ballon also invites us to speculate on how this “vision of brazen ambition” can be further adapted to serve coming generations. What does the legacy of New York City’s master plan teach us about urbanism?

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