Further on into Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded, he talks of the concept of an ‘Energy Internet’ or smart grid which is an idea fairly new to me, yet embodies much of the current trends I have recognised emerging over the past few years – namely micro and local sustainable clean energy generation, individuals trading surplus back into the grid, ubiquitous computing and the ‘internet of things’. He paints a picture of a not too distant (and possibly essential) future where utilities and media are all provided and managed through one single point in the home; a box which monitors the energy usage of every appliance in the home, your (electric) car, your utility payment plan and contract in real time, and media.
Set in a utopian future of national clean energy provision, there are, according to TF, huge savings in to be made by managing your demand around usage peaks and taking advantage in fluctuations in the wholesale electricity market. All very clever, and kinda feasible sounding stuff.
I wonder if this is the future of some subscription broadcasters and even ISPs? To control and make a rake on utility transactions as well as supplying entertainment and broadband connectivity is definitely attractive and could usher in an era of ‘all play’ single suppliers to the home. Should we resist such a potential monopoly? Perhaps, if supply is controlled by one single company, but if the ‘box’ transparently aids the individual user to choose from a set of real time recommendations – taking from and supplying to the grid both energy and content, then I think that is rather exciting.
Big players are already onto this.