US Power grid image - Courtesy FEMA
Few of us realize the engineering and design implications of our power grid. The paragraphs quoted below are just a couple points to take in. My point is I’m all for renewable energy. Been reading up. I had no idea how tough that would be on the hardware side.
I was fully briefed on a possible medium size installation of solar at a business. The entire power system from pole to computers would have to be replaced and upgraded greatly. It was too much in that instance to go with. The panels, boards, regulators and controllers one must add so the solar panels can work were a big hint how right the guys at Caltech are on this.
It’s going to be important to be able to filter energy profit influences from engineering reality. Case in point-San Onofre, where an engineering failure has shut down a nuclear power plant, there is a huge political/design/engineering/argument between SoCal Edison and Mitsubishi Heavy about who is responsible. While they all argue, rate payers pay the bill. And that was a steady source of power.
What will follow is a lot of similar debates about design and costs and engineering for a multiplicity of unsteady providers. Wind, solar vary too much moment to moment for existing systems.
I strongly suggest you go on to read the whole thing. We will want these facts in mind as we shift our energy sources.
From the LA Times
Making a green energy future work will be “one of the greatest technological challenges industrialized societies have undertaken,” a group of scholars at Caltech said in a recent report. The report notes that by 2030, about $1 trillion is expected to be spent nationwide in bringing the grid up to date.
The role of the grid is to keep the supply of power steady and predictable. Engineers carefully calibrate how much juice to feed into the system as everything from porch lights to factory machines are switched on and off. The balancing requires painstaking precision. A momentary overload can crash the system.
But regulators are desperate to move past the status quo. Already, power grid operators in some states have had to dump energy produced by wind turbines on blustery days because regional power systems had no room for it. Officials at the California Independent System Operator, which manages the grid in California, say renewable energy producers are making the juggling act increasingly complex.
More: Power Struggle: Green Energy Versus a Grid That’s Not Ready