Bulletin of Electroprosumerism Markets no. 1 (4) /2022 – introduction
Electric monism is more than the uniqueness of electricity
– it is a smaller social entropy (less social pathologies).
And electroprosumerism is more than energy transition (less entropy, more exergy).
It is also a smaller entropy of the entire economy and the natural environment.
It is impossible to fully understand the essence and importance of the transformation in the breakthrough innovation mode (in Polish referred to as “transformacja TETIP – transformacja w trybie innowacji przełomowej”) to “electroprosumerism” without including it in the historical perspective of scientific, industrial and social revolutions of the last 300 years in the Euro-Atlantic area – revolutions forming the process of successive civilization breakthroughs and cultural changes.
At the beginning of the process (18th century) there was a coal mining (as a source of chemical energy) and a steam engine (as a source of kinetic energy). Coal and steam engines gave rise to the first industrial revolution: railroads and factories (with a “rigid” layout but also “multi-story” or “multi-level”, in which factory machines were driven by steam engines and transmission belts, and production took place on multiple levels of the building).
The first major breakthrough in the energy sector (late 19th century) was electrification, i.e. electricity from hydropower plants (potential energy) and coal-fired power plants. Electricity created foundations for the second industrial revolution, for a new factory (“one-story” or “one-level”, with a separate electric drive for each particular machine, enabling easy reconfiguration of technological “sockets”, i.e. enabling fast and mass reconfiguration of the industry enabling the emergence of new generations of industrial products, including an avalanche of inventions such as sewing machine, typewriter, bicycle, tram and many more). The rapidly increasing availability of electricity enabled the rapid dissemination of such inventions as the telegraph, telephone, radio and many others.
Parallel to electrification, the mining of hydrocarbons was taking off: crude oil and natural gas as primary/chemical energy fuels for end markets (transport fuels in road transport and heating, respectively) and raw materials (primarily for the petrochemical and chemical industries, respectively).
The atomic bomb – the destructive power of which comes from nuclear energy – created for the needs of World War II laid the foundations for the first nuclear power plant (launched at the beginning of the second half of the 20th century). In turn, combined gas power plants (with gas and steam turbines), of great importance for large-scale power systems (EPS), began only in the last decade of the 20th century.
Combustion and thermal processes in the energy use of coal, transport fuels in car engines and gas in power plants mean that the efficiency of fossil fuels in energy applications is very low, and the electro-ecological cost (a measure of the negative impact on the natural environment) is very high; The situation is extremely unfavorable in the case of nuclear power plants, which is determined by a very complicated process of nuclear fuel preparation, its incomplete use in the reactor (which is related to the still unresolved problem of spent fuel storage) and, finally, thermal processes in the steam turbine of a nuclear power plant.
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Two industrial revolutions brought about social changes of a force and on a scale incomparable to the earlier processes known in history. However, the dynamics of these changes turned out to be nothing compared to the changes caused by the digital revolution – from the transistor to the computer, ICT (Information and Communications Technologies), distributed computer networks, the Internet and social networks, and power electronics – lasting only half a century yet. Simultaneously with the digital revolution, the process of exposing the degeneration of the large-scale fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries (in Polish referred to as “WEK-PK iEJ – wielkoskalowa energetyka paliw kopalnych i energetyka jądrowa”) was taking place, and it began in the USA. The first big blackout on the east coast of the US and Canada (1965), the Arab embargo on oil against the US (1973-74), the discontinuation of dividend payments to shareholders by Consolidated Edison (1974), the failure at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant (1979) – were the beginning. Then there was the worst strike of British miners in the industrial history of the world (1984-85). There were two Iraqi oil wars – Desert Storm (1991) and the Second War (2003-2005). There were the Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011) nuclear disasters. There were (and still are) investment (cost) disasters on the construction sites of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in Finland (since 2005) and Flamaville in France (since 2007), as well as Vogtle 3 and 4 in the USA (since 2013), Hinkley Point C in Great Britain (since 2017), and many more. Finally, there is Russiaʹs attack on Ukraine and the related fuel crisis and its civilizational dimensions.
The cause of the modern weakness of fossil fuel energy, which follows its historic (past) power, is simply and unequivocally explained by the paradigmatic triplet of the TETIP transformation. Namely, it is a rapidly growing overall entropy (low energy and economic efficiency, exploitation of the natural environment, and finally social pathologies). Following this explanation (on a fundamental basis), there is a need to define the practical effects of TETIP. The most important effect is the efficiency of the electroprosumerism markets, because it is (should be) the main political premise for accepting the TETIP transformation. In the case of Poland (without nuclear energy), the efficiency of electroprosumerism markets (potential, after the TETIP transformation) is 6 times higher than that of primary energy markets and 3 times higher than that of end markets (annual gross electricity production from renewable resources after the transformation amounts to approx. 200 TWh and the current annual primary energy markets are over 1100 TWh, end markets are over 600 TWh). For the world, these efficiencies are similar (at the same time, they are efficiencies that take into account the much better use of coal, oil and gas than in Poland, and on the other hand, are significantly reduced by the nuclear power industry, which has a share in electricity production that is still around 10%.).
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Undoubtedly, Russia’s attack on Ukraine, extending the boundaries of the complexity of the modern world in an extraordinary way, confirmed, at the same time, the main hypotheses relating to the practice of TETIP transformation, formulated so far in the concept of this transformation. The most important of them, which should be focused on in Poland, is the hypothesis about the necessity to replace energy security and governmental (more precisely: government-corporate) energy policy with electroprosumeric resilience and social market economy. This hypothesis translates directly into the TETIP triplet of practical transformation management including: the doctrine (institutionally sanctioned transformation concept), the DURE reform (the second systemic reform of the power industry, involving the phasing out of fossil fuel energy and its corporate business model) and the Electricity Act (with three pilot acts regarding the following: access to information, the technical market of virtual electric systems “on → on / off → off” – grid operating in the environment of LV, MV and 110 kV power grids, and the ZWZ-KSE principle – the principle of sharing Polish power system resources).
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Poland is on the verge of TETIP transformation in an exceptionally difficult situation. For two decades, the society has been systematically deceived through energy policies (anchored in institutionalized cognitive errors omnipresent in the sector) and ‘narcotic-like’, addictive support systems, and has increasingly slipped into nihilistic positions (leaning towards entitlement rather than personal responsibility). However, it is no longer possible to drift further. It is very likely, that galloping inflation will quickly turn into stagflation. Therefore, radical reforms, including the reform of DURE, and the stimulation of economic development, primarily through electroprosumerism markets, are inevitable.
In this context, it is clear that – in the face of the greatest challenge posed by biotechnology and information technologies, which the world is facing – it does not matter much what the Polish political and corporate alliance does in its competence desert. It matters whether local governments and social elites – from thinkers to the middle class, which is also the most progressive part of the economy in the form of MSME (in English small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs) entrepreneurs – perceive opportunities in TETIP transformation and take up the challenge for which the implementation horizon falls in the middle of the century. In this context, it is important whether Polish thinkers will realize the civilizational dimension of the transformation and correctly comprehend the real relationship between this transformation and social processes. Will politicians be ready to change the short-term perspective into a long-term one, and will they have enough courage to say what the society needs to do rather than listen to what it expects and demands? Will local governments be able to go beyond the cycle of the next elections and free themselves from the paralysis of energy policy and take responsibility for building a more crisis-proof electroprosumerism-based “immunity”? Will professors have the courage to research and learn instead of getting along with corporate interest groups? Will MSME entrepreneurs be able to overcome the barrier of their own interests? If not, the future of Poland will be decided by chance, and others. The second half of the 18th century will repeat itself (the number “300” of years reappears again), in a new, global version.
This long-term challenge – which is also a challenge to the world – must be met by Poland on its own, using its own resources, understanding properly what the world is doing and constantly realigning itself with that world. To begin with, it has to overcome the mental barrier of the impossibility of implementing the TETIP transformation within three decades, and the second barrier (even more important): the cognitive error in relation to great investment costs (and hence the need for great budget support, primarily from the EU, but also from Poland).
And so, three decades for the TETIP transformation in the 21st century, compared to the fact that the digital transformation took place over the previous five decades, is more than enough. Especially considering that biotechnologies have made tremendous progress at the same time. And you have to remember that the development of biotechnology was a coincidence (in a cosmic order of things). Namely, it was stimulated by physicists – in particular by one of the most prominent of them, Leo Szilard, who in a personal act of despair and opposition abandoned physics and turned to biology – who managed to build an atomic bomb during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, but failed to dissuade President Harry S. Truman from its use (Hiroshima, Nagasaki).
In turn, dealing with the cognitive error related to the great investment costs of the TETIP transformation is already possible on the basis of both deductive and inductive research. Thanks to the former, balance and economic heuristics are already available (the PPTE2050 platform), showing the benefits and advantages of the TETIP trajectory (A → B). And the latter show the ever-growing dynamics of achieving the political goals of transformation to climate neutrality in the entire EU, especially in Germany.
Therefore, not the lack of time and costs are the problem of the energy transition in the 2050 horizon. The real problem of the world in this horizon is the answer to the question about the new political order in an environment of accelerating biotechnologies and information technologies, the declining ethical condition of the global society and the limits of the Earth’s natural environment; in the Euro-Atlantic zone, this new order will probably be influenced by the last two great philosophical currents: the Enlightenment and positivism. The initial signs of the response are already visible in a civilizational clash that begins between the authoritarian-oligarchic system (Russia) and the democratic-market system (the Euro-Atlantic zone). With the clash with China present in the background.
In this perspective, electroprosumerism – with the theoretical foundation in the form of electric monism – should be considered not only in the context of the energy transition and the path to climate neutrality, but also as one of the pillars of the new political order that actually links Man’s freedom with his responsibility. This challenge – building a new political order – requires a new social philosophy (combining freedom and responsibility) and a philosophy of our natural environment. Further, it demands a serious discussion of the dilemma – already dramatically emerging in the energy sphere – of which comes first: desire or deficit? The unification of the paradigmatic triplet of electric monism (electroprosumerism, exergy and virtualization paradigms) requires unification using entropy (entropy analysis) as a unifier.
In the Polish (local), very practical perspective, two unifiers in particular are needed. The first is the unifier of the TETIP (A → B) transformation trajectory management triplet including: the doctrine (the TETIP concept), the DURE reform and the Electricity Act. This unifier must be a market with competition on a control front-end (the term front-end is borrowed here from thermodynamics, and represents the connection point between the electric network and the end user) between the declining systemic order of the corporate fossil fuel energy industry and the emerging order of electroprosumerism markets. The second one must be the unifier of energy security (the central category of the state energy policy) and the electroprosumeric resilience (the central category of electroprosumerism on front-ends of individual electroprosumers and local government units).
In the most expressive form, not shunning emotions, what needs to be done immediately in Poland in the area of energy transition is to move away from the world where mourning of miners dying in mining disasters became something we got used to, towards such one where electroprosumerism is celebrated, with miners building the ethos of an electroprosumer – which is not worse, and not better – than the ethos of a miner. And replace the devastating presence (for electroprosumeric resilience) of nuclear energy and fossil fuels with endogenous development; mitigate the risk of an authoritarian-oligarchic system taking over by creating a social market economy (where social capital is a key value); replace the obligation of corporate work with the enthusiasm of innovators.
English version: Jacek Dubrawski, Grzegorz Popczyk