Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released “The Networked Energy Web: The Convergence of Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, and Distributed Power Generation as the Next Frontier of the ICT Revolution,” a report recommending bold steps to upgrade and modernize American energy infrastructure through the lens of technology deployment and innovation. Upgrading the energy grid will make the United States less dependent on foreign oil, further integrate renewable energies into mainstream energy production, and create tens of thousands of jobs in industries like manufacturing and information technology.
This CAP report by Bracken Hendricks and Adam James offers a bipartisan strategy for accelerating the coming transformation of the U.S. electric grid system into a truly integrated network which is clean, transparent, private and secure. The past decade has seen the radical transformation of America’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and this paper draws on those lessons to chart a course for energy.
As we have made strides in information technology, our energy infrastructure has benefited and gotten smarter and more efficient. This report proposes a networked energy web reminiscent of cloud-based computing. This energy network is achieved by:
- Increasing the decentralization of energy generation, which lowers the cost of energy and helps to integrate more sources of alternative energy into the grid
- Meeting the potential for energy efficiency in buildings by using better building materials in construction and real-time information to make smarter energy-distribution decisions
- Integrating smart-grid technology into the existing energy grid, which can efficiently distribute energy, as well as information, around the country
The paper argues that improvements in energy efficiency, distributed generation, and the smart grid are not separate issues, but are actually all part of a wholesale transformation occurring in the energy system. This transition to a “networked energy web” promises to unleash massive economic growth. But public and private stakeholders must have a model for understanding and managing this change. This paper presents a conceptual model for framing this transformation, as well as distilling an initial set of recommendations for the executive and legislative branches, regulatory bodies, and private actors.
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