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A Nonny Moose

Whither the Power Grid

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My grandfather in Adelaide has a solar panel, don't know how much it powers though. I have always lived in traditional places with grid based electricity. I don't use much electricity though. 

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I guess the idea was if we were using what they considered to much electricity they would cut it causing a brown out. or at least something to that effect. new meters here in the usa have been installed so we could see our power usage online. It has been a while since i have seen the article.

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  • The intention with the new system of controls is load levelling.  If you sign up and get the equipment you won't be able to run your high-energy use appliances during peak load hours on the net.

     

    The net is being re-engineered (slowly) to be more cellular than in the past so it will be hard to knock out wide areas.  The new gear to handle outages in a more tolerant fashion is very expensive and takes a long time to produce.  Expect power rates to go up.

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    The US grid as it currently stands really is a bunch of smaller grids woven together to form "super grids." This has pros and cons. It is so complex that even the people that operate it don't fully understand it, which is a problem. At the same time, the fact that it is such a confusing machine makes it difficult to successfully attack.

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    My power company is bribing people to reduce electrical usage during peak hours on high usage days. 

     

    The goal is for people to reduce their usage by x%.  (I don't know what x is; they didn't tell me.)

     

    I get a robocall the night before, telling me that the next day will be a "energy saving" day.  I've found that, if I avoid using the washer, dryer, dishwasher, oven, and stove during those hours, I meet whatever the criteria is and get a few dollars shaved off my bill.  

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  • Yes, the idea is to do some load levelling.  All the power you can ever want is there, but as demand increases some finer controls help a lot.

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    duke energy (our power company) keeps running ads about how they're "upgrading their plants" and such. it starts out in a 70's-looking seting and it says at the end "doing (x) has changed since 30 years ago" or something like that. i guess it's good they're upgrading their stuff.

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    Smart meters and electricity billing "plans".

    seem to me to be  way for them to charge you the highest rates at the time you use the most power.

    and next to nothing when the use is very very low.

    just take the things the power companies are doing not as anything  to help their  customers but help line  their own pockets.

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    My power company is bribing people to reduce electrical usage during peak hours on high usage days. 

     

    seem to me to be  way for them to charge you the highest rates at the time you use the most power.

    and next to nothing when the use is very very low.

    just take the things the power companies are doing not as anything  to help their  customers but help line  their own pockets.

     

    The name of the game here is "demand response". For decades, utilities responded to greater demand by just building more power plants. But we've reached a point where for political, practical, and economic reasons, just building more power plants is a lot more difficult, time consuming, and expensive than it used to be. So, to address the growing demands, power companies have turned (sometimes required by law) to finding ways to make people be more efficient in their use of electricity.

     

    The simplest way to do this is to pay people incentives for upgrades that permanently reduce the amount of power they consume (such as installing CFL or LED lights). I work for a program in New York City that does this. It benefits capacity issues during peak load times but it also reduces loads at other times, reduces people's carbon footprint, etc.

     

    The other, more targeted approach, is to encourage people to shed loads specifically during peak hours. Turn some lights off, turn down your AC, run some of your building on a generator if you have one, etc. This is what your "energy saving days" are about. This is why smart metering charges you more at peak hours - the idea is not to collect more money from you so much as it is to encourage you to do things like run your washer and dryer early in the morning or at night rather than in the afternoon when demand peaks. Con Edison in New York City does not have smart meters but they do charge commercial and industrial customers based on their peak demand (kW) in addition to just energy (kWh), with the idea that people will have a financial incentive to reduce said peak demand.

    This is important because many types of mechanical equipment cause huge sudden spikes in demand when they start up that then quickly disappear. Your air conditioner, for example, pulls easily twice as many watts in first the couple seconds after you turn it on as it does while running after that. Shaving that sort of sudden spike down or moving it to a time of day when demand is lower won't really save you much in the way of kWh, but it will save you a lot of kW, which is what grid capacity is actually constrained by. Indeed, in SimCity, you may note power plants have capacities listed in MW (megawatts). Real world power plants are measured the same way.

     

    Incidentally, Meg, the company I work for also runs the efficiency program for Pepco in Maryland. I know a couple folks down there.

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    ComEd sent us notifications about our electrical usage compared to our neighbors. Let me tell you how flawed that was.

     

    In my house resides a family of four. We all use desktop computers on a daily basis with the exception of my sister who uses a laptop. My dad and I both have two monitors. I'm using my PC all day when I'm not working. My dad, mom and sister all leave their computers on all day. Then there are the other basic appliances. 

     

    Now, you take that, and compare it to our neighbors. To our right, we have one retired old woman who is only home at night. And to our left, we have a family of five with two elementary school kids and a toddler. They're going to be using a lot less. 

     

    And last week our electric company bugged us about entering some program for saving money and power. Not sure about the details.

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    At the house I used to live at we were told in order for us to save money that all appliances we were not currently using for example cell phone chargers, tv's, toasters, ect. should be unplugged because everything you plug in uses power wheather or not it is on or not. I was suppose to put everything on a six plugger and when I left the house I was suppose to turn that six plugger off to save power usage.

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    Smart meters and electricity billing "plans".

    seem to me to be  way for them to charge you the highest rates at the time you use the most power.

    and next to nothing when the use is very very low.

    just take the things the power companies are doing not as anything  to help their  customers but help line  their own pockets.

     

    It varies with the company.  The local utility here isn't asking anyone to switch to higher payment plans.  Rather, it is asking them to reduce their overall usage through performing energy efficiency upgrades.

     

    Realistically, what many power utilities are seriously hoping to do is make peak hour usage painful enough that people change their usage habits to reduce the pain.  It wasn't that many years ago, when it cost the electric utility up to 4 times as much (or more) money for your light bulb to be on at noon than at 10pm.  The utility is asking you to share the pain it feels.

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    When I was younger and more romantic and enthusiastic regarding science I read about transmitting power in a wireless manner. I presume this remains too costly/undeveloped?

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    Some Nokia Lumia phones can charge wirelessly and feasible technologies exist to make trams/buses run 'wirelessly' (by using induction).

     

    In Belgium, electricity companies don't propose those kinds of plans, to spread demand. You use electricity, they send bills. That's it, mostly. The only thing that exists here is the night meter, and this effectively is a way of spreading demand. Some people have two meters in their house, so at night their electricity is cheaper. Quite a few people do their laundry at night. but I guess this is a system that's in use all over the world.

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    Hipster Tesla was wireless before most of the world even had wires.</meme>

     

    Wirelessly transmitting power over short distances using magnetic induction is a known thing that is still being looked at. This would, for example, allow you to charge your electric car simply by parking it over the appropriate spot. But wirelessly transmitting power over long distances in lieu of having power lines is not something you are ever going to see because 1) it would be ridiculously costly and inefficient, 2) it would result in a lot of things getting zapped that you don't want to get zapped, and 3) the power available would by necessity decrease with distance from the nearest "transmitter", and pretty much everything that uses electricity requires a relatively constant voltage in order to operate as intended.

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    But couldn't you create towers like with cellphones and have 'electricity coverage' zones? I don't know much about induction, but surely there is some way of utilising radio technology to power things? I don't know... The radio waves could fuel nanoscopic motors or something... Or some battery powered by radio signals causing chemical reactions within it... The towers could have a solar array attached

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  • Original Poster
  • @Mark:  You need to step into your library and see if they have a copy of Hugo Gernsback's short story Ralph 124C41+.  In may be in a compendium, or may not be available at all.  Good old Ralph could even stop an avalanche with radio waves.

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    Wireless electricity generation is one of those ideas that runs into some very fundamental problems with physics. To transmit power across even tiny distances requires voltages at levels beyond what is safe for people to be around. Lightning operates at voltages ranging from 100,000,000-1,000,000,000 volts. By comparison, the highest anyone has seriously worked with is around 1,300,000 volts.

    Not only is such a system impractical, it is incredibly unsafe. You would need to push thousands of amps through the air at voltages orders of magnitude higher than we have any experience with. I don't know if you've seen pictures of what kind of tissue damage this kind of electrical energy can do, but it is gruesome on a level that words cannot easily convey.

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    Yes and as I was saying it would be transmitted as radio waves, not as lightning bolts. I am speaking of a mobile phone style setup where some frequency of radio wave is used (whatever is most powerful) and that this would stimulate a battery to charge in mobile devices via some reaction. I'm not saying I know quite how to achieve this, but I am sure some battery could be charged by radio signal... 

     

    Also I suppose the concept of powerless devices doesn't exist? Is electricity the only method of powering a machine? Could you replace it with something else? Our neurones are electric but only require a small amount to operate at high speeds

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  • Radio waves are one of the very faintest of signals operating in the microvolt range.  Can't carry power on that.  The problem with wireless transmission of power is that it takes POWER!  Fields like that are shown off in demonstrations of the Tesla coil.  It has been a popular gadget at Engineering demonstrations in universities since Tesla invented it.

     

    The inverse square law applied to anything broadcast unless it is collimated using some kind of focusing mechanism.  Laser is a good example that removes the helter-skelter of photons and lines them up nicely.

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    Yes... But as I say I meant something to replace electricity... The wave motion could actuate some chemical operation in a battery... 

     

    I mean we are electric machines, but we don't have power chargers. We have chemical processes in us which actuate our neurone networks...

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  • Well, Mark, since you need direction, why not devote your life to this?  I won't be around very much longer, but you have your life ahead of you.

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    Because I'm an unemployed pauper who'd be grateful for a job and a flat and who would never get into a university to study physics and who is bad at maths mentally speaking and because i daresay there are people far worthier than myself who have the resources to research this idea. 

     

    Having said that naturally if there was something I could do I would do it. I may be the enemy of humankind, but that is because most humans are their own enemy. 

     

    You may be right regarding direction, and certainly I failed you when you tried to help me learn programming. I am not going to pretend I had an excuse for not trying harder with that, even with all that happened back in the Gong and so forth. However I think I am not in a position to advance into such worthy planes as university and higher education. For starters to be accepted into an apprenticeship you have to live in the UK for three years, and while what you say is definitely true I am still 22 and it is best to get started asap with these things, especially in this day and age of constant change and radical improvement.

     

    I would be lucky to land a decent job in five years time. While I am as capable as anybody of researching and experimenting, I am not privy to front line data, and I lack the mathematical computing ability in my brain to calculate the necessary variables etc...

     

    The reason I felt radio waves might power future tech is because they are, after all, a wave. Thus they cause motion and pass through matter causing a response in said matter. I felt that maybe some bonding structure would be affected by this wave and react in a usable manner, which could be cycled to produce some force of 'electrification'.

     

    Then again I am a Jules Verne of science. Never travelled very far myself but write as though I was Marco Polo.

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  • Nobody is bad at maths.  That's a myth.  You can be good at maths if you take the serious time to study some elementary stuff.  Put your thinking cap on, stop crying in your puddle, and go to the library and get a copy of Book I of Euclidean Geometry.  You should be back for Book II in about a month or less.

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