The Decentralization of the Electricity Grid-Mitigating Risk in the Energy Sector

Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

Ms. Kirsten Verclas urges that nations such as the U.S. and Germany move to create more regional electricity grids to decrease vulnerability of their electricity supply. Centralized energy grids are often cited as a potential target for terrorists and prove vulnerable in environmental disasters. One must not look beyond the example of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction to understand the fragility of centralized systems. This natural disaster left 2.7 million Americans without power for eight weeks.  With the creation of microgrids, disaster relief teams could focus on restoring power to facilities with critical need, such as hospitals and emergency response centers. Decentralizing energy grids also provides greater environmental benefit as shorter transmission lines prevent excess energy loss in transmission.  Conversion to a decentralized power system requires substantial infrastructure investment, and thus politicians feel less apt to proactively support this aim.  Do you feel agree that benefits of decentralizing power grids outweigh the costs to create them? What other measures could the U.S. or Germany take to ensure the security of their respective energy grids?  How could these nations incentivize the creation of microgrids?