Distributed, or decentralized, electrical power generation should be much more common for both public safety and convenience during both small- and large-scale emergencies. This on-site generation of electricity need not necessarily be required to provide the energy needs of each consumer, but it should provide at least a fairly significant portion of their electrical usage. Photovoltaic, geothermal and wind generated sources or even battery storage captured from conventional grid generation during off peak hours could serve as possible buffer sources that would allow a comprehensive but robust supply of a functional amount of electrical energy to be supplied when virtually all long distance power lines have failed. Of course, the more local the power line failure is, the less any given consumer would be able to rely on any electrical grid, regardless of how small. In such cases, reliance must be entirely on that consumer’s own generation capacity.
An additional benefit arising from this proposal is the reduction of the amount of aesthetic pollution from power lines. The number of such lines could be reduced because distributed power generation, especially in combination with battery storage technology, would necessitate less of a need for infrastructure with a high enough capacity to handle the delivery of the entire potential peak load of electrical power to an area, plus a safety margin. Reliance on battery technology (conventional alternative energy generation sources are not reliably enough) would enable an infrastructural design capacity of perhaps 50% of the current capacity because much of the power needed during peak demand would be supplied by batteries which would have captured that power from base generators during times of low demand.
Such an infrastructure would be much more versatile during periods of local or systemic disruption. Individual consumers would rapidly be able to adjust their usages based on the available power generated from their installed alternative energy sources or battery systems. Blackouts would be uncommon. Instead, plenty of power would be available, even if using battery systems alone, for the essential electrical needs such as for communication devices and basic lighting.
Perhaps some of the most promising larger scale solutions to filling in the temporal supply gaps that are fundamental limitations of most renewable energy generators would be technologies such as the Liquid Metal Battery or perhaps even compressed air energy storage systems (perhaps subterranean where appropriate formations allow).
ElectroMagnetic Pulses are very real threats that can come from severe solar storms or from human designed attacks (such as from high altitude nuclear explosions) and which could severely damage significant portions of any society’s electrical infrastructure, leading to recovery times that could potentially take as long as months. To design infrastructures without an inherent built-in safety against these threats is short-sighted and negligent. Transformers, electrical substations, critical computers and all other critical infrastructures need to be hardened (protected) against the sudden incredible surges in power that would result in such situations.