If the center doesn’t hold: Why the electric power industry could one day collapse
Have you ever bought a new car and then you notice that nearly everyone on the road seems to drive exactly the same car? Mine is a bright red Jeep Wrangler, and trust me, they are everywhere. This “that’s weird” effect is actually called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, or frequency illusion, which means that something that has recently come to one’s attention suddenly seems to re-appear with an improbably high (and slightly creepy) frequency. It should not have surprised me then, as I mused about the possible collapse of the electric power industry, that seemingly every trend aligned to prove my hypothesis: every regulatory shift, every new business model, even the Duck’s Belly. Obviously, my confirmation bias is fully intact.
Here’s the logic of this alarming theory —
When reliable supplies of cheap electricity increase, people have access to an abundance of electrons at a very low cost. Therefore, electricity as a marketable product becomes less valuable, simply because it is in great supply. Without any shift in current strategies, this situation creates uncertainty about the future worth of the economic value of electricity generation. Further, with the ease of deploying rooftop solar and as the availability of costeffective storage solutions increases, there will be no financial value in participating with the macrogrid. With business as usual, we will rapidly progress towards a state where full demand for the bulk transmission of electrical energy product could diminish to a level of negative and conceivably nonexistent demand. Thus, there is very little value in linking energy demand and supply to price.