Designed for the supply and demand of the 19th and 20th centuries, the current electric grid requires substantial investment to continue to provide reliable power for a growing, increasingly electricity-dependent population. Interest in strengthening America’s grid has increased attention to Distributed Power Systems (DPS), a combination of distributed generation sources and grid storage. DPS technologies include rooftop solar installations, “microwind” turbines, electrochemical fuel-cell systems, and combined heat and power applications. By using localized sources of generation, electricity consumers in the commercial and residential sectors have an opportunity to bypass the centralized system of generation and dispatch to meet their own electricity needs and play a role in stabilizing and supporting the grid. DPS are also a method for cleaner energy sources to provide a larger share of the electricity mix. DPS applications also have potential value to the U.S. military as it seeks to increase the efficiency of its operations both at home and in the battle theater.
On October 31, the Energy Security Initiative at Brookings and the Hoover Institution’s Energy Task Force hosted experts from the public and private sectors for a series of discussions to address the potential of Distributed Power Systems in the United States. Following introductory remarks by Brookings President Strobe Talbott and Hoover Institution Distinguished Fellow George Shultz, panelists assessed the environmental, national security, and economic strengths and weaknesses of DPS and examine the policies that will enable DPS in a feasible and cost-effective manner.
After each panel, participants took audience questions.