The notion that energy should be supplied to a dwelling from ‘outside’ through pipes and wires is relatively new. The first gas main was laid only in 1812 and the widespread availability of electricity is barely 100 years old. The gas and electricity utilities came to dominate supplies because they were more convenient as well as being reliable, cheap and relatively clean. Now the use of fossil fuel is causing global problems. Electricity generation at large remote power stations has received particular criticism because the steam turbine technology used ends up with large quantities of ‘low grade’ heat which have to be wastefully discarded. Energy is also lost in transmission to users and there is increasing interest in ‘local’ or ’micro’ generation of electricity in or near homes.
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