I’m a Trekkie*. I’ll openly admit that. Show me Captain Kirk fighting Klingons and I’m content. Whilst watching the latest film I was struck by the starship’s fictional energy source, Dilithium crystals, which enables the ship to be entirely self-sufficient, indefinitely. A powerful (albeit far-fetched) concept, but is it actually that far from reality when the energy market’s current trajectory is considered?
A small section of consumers have taken advantage of technology developments (in particular Solar PV, heat pumps and battery storage) so that they are no longer solely reliant on importing energy from the grid, instead they produce enough to export back into it. So called ‘Prosumers’ generate income from selling their surplus, reducing the demand for typical energy generation methods and helping smooth peaks in system demand.
This benefits the individual and our energy system but there are three key barriers which must be overcome before Prosumer technology is adopted en mass:
The potential of the Prosumer Revolution is huge – cheaper householder energy costs, reduced strain on generation infrastructure and better load and loss management of the grid. But until customers are more aware of the benefits self-generation technologies provide and can access them more cheaply, the prosumer revolution will remain constrained.
For the time being Star Trek’s energy utopia is not a reality, however in our lifetime it could be. Strange to think, but the Dilithium plot device written in the 1960’s as a futuristic technology advancement 100s of years away is on the cusp of becoming a global standard.
* Noun: a fan of the US science fiction television programme Star Trek.
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