My longish piece on the weird future politics of solar power hit Quartz today. Thanks for all the RTs and comments coming in. It's an interesting story, not just for the political and economic contortions the power industry is going through to adapt to solar's increasing popularity, but for what it may tells us about how we may think about infrastructure in general in the near future.
The point of the piece is that economic pressures are causing odd political fissures that may just align with how younger generations feel in general in the future about important services such as energy, transportation, communication, and so on. We've spent decades welding together a global network of critical services, and just when we should be seeing the benefit of this effort, external pressures and internal weaknesses are creating forces that push toward smaller, cellular, community-centered designs and initiatives (like this one in Berlin).
Similar dynamics as we are seeing in solar are starting to bubble around communication networks, for example, in response to a lack of competition among big network companies, slow rollout of next generation services, and lately, perceived vulnerabilities of using centralized networks to privacy and outside manipulation. Cities are experimenting with creating local networks, and citizens with devising and building their own Internet and e-mail services, as in this recent example from Greece. Energy is not far behind in terms of consumer ability to go off-network. The next decade will be interesting for infrastructure.