Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WWCF: Gridless Power or Wireless Power?

Which will come first?

Gridless Power (household power commonly generated on site)
Wireless Power (batteries or battery-like power sources that largely self charge)

Both of these would be very big advances as respective cords are cut. For gridless power the aesthetic benefits would be dramatic gains all by themselves. Imagine a world where we are nostalgic for overhead power lines. The telephone pole as romantic as horse-drawn buggies. But don't forget the benefits of blackouts and brownouts being as foreign as breadlines are to us today. Whether the target of terrorists or ice storms (take a guess which one has taken out more power supply in the past 10 years), the centralized power system creates a dependency and hence vulnerability that we would certainly like to avoid.

In wireless power this could include simply batteries with life something like 100x greater than currently available. But imagine your iPhone actually charging from the motion it undergoes while in your pocket. Or perhaps from heat in the air. Or moisture--maybe water isn't the kryptonite of the mobile phone. 

Gridless power doesn't have to be solar; although, that is a big likelihood. You don't have to be a super genius like Tesla to imagine wireless electricity. And yes, these two overlap quite a bit--it seems. Sometimes things similar in concept end up being quite different in practice.

My WAG is wireless beats gridless in terms of large-scale affordability and consumer penetration by at least a decade. The economies of scale at work in the grid are quite powerful forces. The abundance of natural gas strengthens the inertia for the grid considerably.