The beginning of the end for grids

Events in Vietnam show us what grids worldwide have in store

An article “After the renewable energy frenzy, Vietnam’s solar energy is lost’, published yesterday in Al Jazeera, shows us what is going to happen for grids worldwide.

The network in Vietnam appears to be unable to keep up with the pace of solar energy adoption.

As a result, solar energy suppliers to the Vietnamese grid are told to turn off their power up to 50% of the time.

This is the result of an initiative in Vietnam to expand solar capacity in 2018.

Vietnam sets out green ambitions with bold targets for solar, rare earth

Vietnam plans to more than triple the amount of electricity it produces from renewable sources.

The original target was solar energy with a capacity of 850 MW.

What they got, by offering guaranteed rates for power generated from solar energy, was 16.5 GW.

That is a truly astonishing result, showing the rest of the world what is possible.

But apparently the grid’s preferential rates are now capped at 2GW.

The investors involved are villagers from communities who have invested in building local solar parks all over Vietnam.

So now they risk losing rather than profit from their investments, and lawsuits are starting to appear against the government.

In their experience, solar farms that take a year to build then need three years of development in Grid infrastructure to support it.

This marks the beginning of the end for Grids worldwide, as it is clear that there is really no real need for a national grid, if every solar park has the right hydrogen generation and backup, and a local “Mini-grid”.

Where hydrogen fits

A solar installation supported by hydrogen-based fuel cells, fed by an electrolyser powered directly from the solar cells, provides an excess of hydrogen. Any energy not used by the microgrid is used to make more hydrogen, which is a very valuable clean fuel, functionally replacing fossil fuels without the pollution, even cleaning the air and providing water for combustion.

The money-fuel tree

Could this be the answer to all the problems?

This can be stored on site and transported to external consumers as a valuable product.

With that capability, the power that hasn’t been sold to the grid would still be available to sell to others.

This is what is missing in the Vietnamese solar parks.

As a systems engineer with thirty years of experience, often with grid-based industrial electrical systems, a full member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers as it was when I was chartered, I was committed until recently to the idea that we could eventually have a global electrical grid, to ensure uninterrupted global flow of solar energy.

But with the analysis I’ve been doing for the most part here in Medium since about 2017, I’ve come to realize that there’s no need for a Grid.

In fact, we would do well without them.

All they do is tie us into the impossible scenario of continued withdrawn capital energy consumption.

What we see in Vietnam is confirmation of that fact.


However we look at it, Grids are becoming a sort of unnecessary behemoth, a hindrance to the rapid absorption of solar energy that the world so desperately needs.

We have to be ready to let them go.

The nature of solar energy is that it is distributed.

There is no longer a technical reason to maintain centralized networks.

By Frederick Bott

Source: Vietnam Insider


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