Re: Technology evolves, ergo automation evolves, until...

Michael Lorrey (
Tue, 10 Nov 1998 08:59:53 -0500

Joe Jenkins wrote:

> ---O'Dhaniel Mullette-Gillman <> wrote:
> > Joe Jenkins <> wrote:
> > >Although I share much enthusiasm for self replicating machines, I am
> > >also skeptical of the benefits of cheap centralized energy. I am
> > >currently paying about $400 a month for power to my home. I don't
> > >remember the source or exact numbers, but only a small percent
> (around
> > >10%) of that is being used for paying the cost of energy. The
> > > majority is for distribution, maintenance of power lines, meter man,
> > >and general overhead. Even if the energy was free, my bill would
> > >still be around $360 and that's not exactly a major increase in
> > >quality of living. A real benefit would be an energy box in
> everyones
> > >home that requires occasional refills of cheap chemicals. Now that
> > >would make a difference.
> > What you are forgetting Joe is that everyone that you are listing
> there
> > is also charging you for their expenses... such as electric.
> The recursive effects of zero cost energy at the centralized power
> plant would not be any more drastic than the direct effects. So
> taking this into account would save less than an additional $40 a
> month. Still, not a big deal. The infrastructure needed, including
> real estate, and a limited ability for open competition are too much
> of a show stopper for real progress. Household micro power plants
> encourage competition and eliminate the massive infrastructure needed.

Household power plants are not a cost effective source of energy. Normal household sized fossil fuel base generators generally have an energy cost of between $0.15-$0.75 per kilowatt hour. Present day solar and wind plants for the home also are in the $0.250-$0.500 per kwh range. The new thin film amorphous solar cells that have been 'coming to market' for the past 6 years, built into roofing shingles, are supposedly in the $0.120-$0.250 per kwh range, but I have yet to see any installations. Considering that the average for the US is around $0.075 per kwh, this technology, as well as all other household based power generation, is only usable in two areas a) extreme rural/wilderness locations, and b) areas that pay $0.12-$0.17 per kwh already for centralized power. Also, because small power plants do not load share and cross tie with other generators and consumers, the energy efficiency is lower and the pollution levels per kwh are much higher (for the fossil fuel sources, of course).

Mike Lorrey