Networks are powerful, they amplify signals and messages, create effects that anchor and entrench products and players. When we have a power plant and a network supplying power to a lot of households, we gain from economies of scale, the higher power available unlocks higher consumption of electrical appliances, increases our productive hours and amplify the wonders of having electricity.
It also means that if that power plant fails, you’ve a blackout. Not just you but across the network. Expanding the network, putting more plants on it enhances resilience to an extent – so much so we have taken our network’s reliability for granted.
But guess what, power networks are going to be less stable. Intermittent sources of electricity from wind and solar power, as well as decentralised generation of power reduces the predictability of power flows and makes it harder for the system to operate smoothly in matching demand and supply. Huge mismatches will cause outages and when that happens, can your decentralised generation actually help you? Do you have “island” capabilities on your microgrid?
A microgrid that has capabilities to disconnect from the main grid and supply itself is powerful – even if the supply is just to sustain the system for some time. That enhances resilience. In life as well, it makes sense to acquire another skill on the side, make friends from beyond work and save up significantly, to achieve this resilience. Too often we are silently being lulled into being dependent on the mammoth bureacracy and system built around us we think we don’t need the island capabilities anymore.