An interesting point that the article brings up is that while
large commercial power plants may have lower operating costs due
to economies of scale, smaller distributed power could have lower
up front costs due to mass production.
If the (potentially) lower efficiency of the smaller scale power
plant could be matched with lower transmission losses, due to the
proximity to the consumer, then the power coming from distributed
smaller scale plant could feasibly cost as much as the larger
That is not to say that large industrial applications are not
preferable in some instances (concentrating solar power, nuclear
power), but that smaller distributed power plants may have similar
price per kWh.
Gabriel L. Espinosa
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
University of Florida
On Tue Feb 10 14:36:54 EST 2009, Nathan Mitten <[log in to unmask]>
> I didn't get a chance to read the articles, but I did have a
> quick point to
> make...I hope it is not completely irrelevant. "Distributed" is
> exclusive of small or large. A large industrial operation can
> have a power
> plant on site that may be "large", a resident may have a solar
> power plant
> on their roof which is "small", and a commercial building may
> have a CHP
> unit which may be "medium". The biggest issue in my opinion is
> that by
> locating the power source near the demand, the system is more
> efficient and
> robust. The nature of all energy resources is that they are
> distributed...especially renewables; why not be more like nature
> and convert
> them for our benefit with a distributed system. It also has
> intangible benefits like bringing the reality of finite energy
> resources and
> energy conversion "into sight, into mind" so-to-speak...something
> many could
> benefit from.
> My BEST to you all,
> Nate Mitten
> PhD Program
> University of Florida, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
> Chair, ASES Clean Energy and Water Division
> Phone: (717) 303-9424
> Email: [log in to unmask]
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology Society
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Hurford
> Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:33 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Does a Big Economy Need Big Power Plants?
> A couple of points.
> The economy of scale resulted in the larger electric utility
> (e.g. FP&L) being able to sell electricity considerable cheaper
> the existing distributed power plants that where often owned by
> local municipality (e.g. the Town of Stark). People always want
> to get
> commodities as cheaply as possible. That why Walmart is one of
> the few
> still making a profit.
> Small distributed power systems are not able to cost effectively
> industrial operations. As an example, an aluminum processing
> in northeast Alabama that turn aluminum ingots into rolls of flat
> stock required a dedicated 300,000 kVa power feed.
> See the link below for the Government's Electric Power Industry
> Year in review.
> On 2/10/09, Jason Evans <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Very interesting "Freakonomics" post by Amory Lovins.
>> Does a Big Economy Need Big Power Plants?
>> By Amory B. Lovins
>> Jason M. Evans, Ph.D.
>> Postdoctoral Researcher
>> Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
>> University of Florida
>> Newin-Ziegler 319
>> (352) 846-0148 - office
>> (352) 328-1199 - cell