Jeffrey Paul A.
JeffreyPAnderson
San Diego, CA
Post #: 24
Technical hurdles are sometimes the easiest to solve..... Here's a piece by the NYT about the challenges with the grid

including:

Politicians in Washington have long known about the grid’s limitations but have made scant headway in solving them. They are reluctant to trample the prerogatives of state governments, which have traditionally exercised authority over the grid and have little incentive to push improvements that would benefit neighboring states.
Ed F.
user 3520782
San Diego, CA
Post #: 11
Very interesting article, thanks. One thing not mentioned is the fact that due to electrical resistance, there is a physical limit to how far electricity can be economically transmitted. After a distance of several hundred miles, power losses become so great that the economics of generating the power that far from demand makes the project unworkable.

This is why the dream of superconductive power transmission lines is so appealing. But this requires revolutionary new materials, manufacturing, installation, cooling and so forth! The investment and risk would be many times greater then standard power lines.

The good news is that over the last five years, major breakthroughs in superconductive materials have occurred. In fact, twenty years ago temperatures had to be at or near absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius), but recently scientists have found material that superconducts at ambient temperature (when in the Antarctic in the middle of winter when the wind is blowing at 100 miles per hour). Not sure, but that is still very cold.
A former member
Post #: 271
Very interesting article, thanks. One thing not mentioned is the fact that due to electrical resistance, there is a physical limit to how far electricity can be economically transmitted. After a distance of several hundred miles, power losses become so great that the economics of generating the power that far from demand makes the project unworkable.

This is why the dream of superconductive power transmission lines is so appealing. But this requires revolutionary new materials, manufacturing, installation, cooling and so forth! The investment and risk would be many times greater then standard power lines.

The good news is that over the last five years, major breakthroughs in superconductive materials have occurred. In fact, twenty years ago temperatures had to be at or near absolute zero (-273.15 degrees Celsius), but recently scientists have found material that superconducts at ambient temperature (when in the Antarctic in the middle of winter when the wind is blowing at 100 miles per hour). Not sure, but that is still very cold.

Actually this is old school thinking. Now with HVDC you can pipe in power from long distances very efficiently. Typically at a loss of 3% per 1000KM. No need for superconducting. This already exists and is in use. This is what 1st world nations use. We for the most part use 3rd world technology just as the article states. The article though stresses that politics are the problem, not technology, and as long as we have states preventing long efficient power lines we'll continue to use a third world power grid.
Ed F.
user 3520782
San Diego, CA
Post #: 12
Old school !! Yikes, I heard that about my music preferences too!

After a cursory look-see in the wiki's, I will say HVDC is indeed a great solution, but it does have some drawbacks. These drawbacks may have near term technological solutions in as much as stepping up to HVDC and back down requires expensive capital investment and creates a source of power loss that currently is acceptable only within certain parameters.

I would like to hear what the strength/weaknesses might be of remote distributed power production (wind power, solar, etc.) that connects with HVDC to transmit to users.
A former member
Post #: 273
I'm no expert in the field. So I'm open to anybody correcting me...

I think the basic idea of HVDC is similar to airplanes and cars. Planes don't really work well for short trips while cars do. So I'd imagine an electric grid with a HVDC backbone very similar to the layout of our airports. We'd distribute electricity over long distances efficiently via HVDC while using whatever existing 3rd world grids we currently have for the local distributions. With point to point distribution this way the costs associated with cross grid conversion become acceptable.

HVDC is also crucial for wind and solar. Remote wind and solar farms should connect to a HVDC backbone allowing long distance distribution of energy based on need. So if a wall street type determined more money would be made by starving CA of energy to drive up prices all it would take is a phone call and a click on the mouse. What helps wall street helps america after all. Oh, woops. That could not be right could it? Perhaps what I meant was HVDC allows the averaging of diverse short term geographical and long term seasonal weather conditions so wind and solar can more confidently be added to the mix. As the HVDC grid expands concentrated power plants will decline...
Bill S
Beesh
San Diego, CA
Post #: 240
Great discussion. This highlights the dpeth & breadth of the issues facing us to really get a systematic solution to energy. Not as simple as putting up solar panels or drivign a Prius (but those sure help). But what about COMMUNITY-based Power? If a lot more smaller munipalities owned their own power plants (hydro, solar, wind, co-generation, geothermal, etc) like they own their own water facilities? Then less need for long distance transmission, although doesn't eliminate it cause we need to move power as local conditions and supply changes from day to day...
Ed F.
user 3520782
San Diego, CA
Post #: 14
Great discussion. This highlights the dpeth & breadth of the issues facing us to really get a systematic solution to energy. Not as simple as putting up solar panels or drivign a Prius (but those sure help). But what about COMMUNITY-based Power? If a lot more smaller munipalities owned their own power plants (hydro, solar, wind, co-generation, geothermal, etc) like they own their own water facilities? Then less need for long distance transmission, although doesn't eliminate it cause we need to move power as local conditions and supply changes from day to day...

The rooftop rental for PV idea, which is being investigated by a large eastern utility would be a great source of power for municipalities. The sunnier the city, the better this idea would be. San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas or any other southwestern city.
A former member
Post #: 3
Connectivity is a key to some of the biggest modern societal issues. Consider a few examples: globally-distributed newspapers, magazines, technical journals; national highway systems, shipping, the internet. When we talk about energy supply and demand we rely on pipelines, shipping, LNG, tankers, etc. And electric networks, for which both AC and DC, high and low voltage, have complementary roles. Wind and solar (and to a lesser degree, hydro) are rightly less valuable (in large amounts) because they don't qualify as base power unless they are connected to some expensive storage facility. And in large amounts they are difficult to get to market. Here's where HVDC offers big benefits; it can economically provide the connectivity over large distances and, at the same time, provide redundancy (security) and reduce the variability intrinsic in large (and efficient) wind and, to some degree, solar power sources.

As noted, this issue has national scale and should contain a good dose of national regulation and, perhaps, incentives.
A former member
Post #: 289
Wind and solar (and to a lesser degree, hydro) are rightly less valuable (in large amounts) because they don't qualify as base power unless they are connected to some expensive storage facility. And in large amounts they are difficult to get to market. Here's where HVDC offers big benefits; it can economically provide the connectivity over large distances and, at the same time, provide redundancy (security) and reduce the variability intrinsic in large (and efficient) wind and, to some degree, solar power sources.

Baseload solar should be brought up. Very predictable efficient 24x7 solar power. Think of it as heating a thermos with reflected sunlight. The thermos is then tapped around the clock using the same turbines nuclear and fossil plants use.

This alternative scared Cheney so much he had the EPA ban it earlier this summer. The excuse was they needed to study the environmental impact of depriving sunlight over large tracks of land. (Fortunately the public outcry was so great the ban was quickly overturned.)

Think of baseload thermal as a one-to-one replacement of nuclear and fossil power plants.
A former member
Post #: 4
Since this DISCUSSION is about grid capacity, my point was that HVDC can (and already does, in a few places) add connectivity, redundancy and reliability to the grid. And it should be expanded. As a bonus, HVDC offers the possibility of transporting electrical energy sources that aren't always available on demand or locally available to markets a long way distant, and smoothing out, to a degree, the variability.

The topic of the relative merits of different kinds of energy deserves a lot of discussion in its own right, baseline solar included; we cann't do it justice here. But I'm tempted to remark that there is a lot of arm-waving and what we need are criteria of merit. The economic system provides one based on price, granted that it is a flawed one, but a quantitative one at least. The market (not always a free market) determines a very sophisticated price. Currently, price (cents per KWH) omits some intangible components, such as global warming (or cooling), national security, health, etc. It would be a great step forward to arrive at a consensus on a quantitative value for these so that all sources of energy could be equitably priced and compared. Could a national commission price these intangibles?
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