Dave Elliott: Energy “autarky” — a term that roughly means self-sufficiency — has obvious social and community advantages. They include reducing the reliance on centralized suppliers and power imports from far-off destinations as well as aiding local development. While the political ramifications of decentralized energy supply is much debated, there are cost issues. It can be less efficient and so more costly to use smaller, local-generation schemes. In addition, local energy self-sufficiency, at whatever level, may also not be viable for all areas, especially given the local variations of renewable supply. There is certainly a debate over the relative merits of national grids versus local autarky. For example, while the European Commission and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity “do not oppose local generation”, they both emphasize the benefits of grids, especially when it comes to the “cost-decreasing effect of integration and electricity trading among European countries”.
Physics World 24th Oct 2019 read more »