Centralization/Decentralization: Divergent Power Trends for 21st Century

by H. E. Bovay, Jr., (F.ASCE), Chmn. of the Board, Chf. Executive Officer; Bovay Engrs., Inc., Houston, Tex.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Power Division, 1978, Vol. 104, Issue 1, Pg. 65-70

Document Type: Journal Paper


Energy patterns in the 21st century appear headed toward paradox. Multiple power options promise to take the energy industry in opposite directions—more centralization on the one hand, more decentralization on the other. The apparent contradiction in terms may produce a unique national system with some important fuel economies. The centralization trend is well underway and destined to expand. As the nation turns increasingly toward coal and nuclear fuels for power generation facilities, the result will be larger, perhaps even regional energy complexes, to take full advantage of the economies of scale. Yet decentralization seems an obvious technological choice for some of the newer energy forms, a number of which are quite productive on a relatively small scale. Solar energy and wind are cases in point, where individual, even residential, units are likely to make significant contributions to the total power picture.

Subject Headings: Solar power | Wind power | Nuclear power | Industries | Coal

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