In March, the UK National Infrastructure Commission released a report on how the electricity grid needs to change in order to keep the lights on, and meet the 2050 targets to reduce carbon emissions by 80%. The report is called ‘Smart Power‘.
It proposes 3 changes to the grid: increased interconnection with other countries; actively managed and flexible supply and demand (aka smart grids); and grid battery storage. It suggests this might take around fifteen years. Future-making work, it would appear.
All three of these futures are already up and running in Orkney, the islands where I work, off the northeast coast of Scotland. The report fails to notice that the UK’s Future Power System can already be experienced and lived in practice in Orkney.
My response is written in the voice of the Electric Nemesis, the figure I am using in my academic work, whose attention to hubris guides me. This is her call to remember futures already made…
This paper was performed at Electrifying Anthropology (Durham University, 14-16 March 2016) and at Energy Ethics (St Andrews University, 17-18 March 2016).
I have also published a condensed version of this paper on the European Marine Energy Centre blog, Smart power flows at the island edge. This version is focused on the issues and possibilities for the energy industry and energy policy.