Thursday, March 24, 2011

Energy Infrastructure

I have hit on infrastructure a few times. Today on Dr. Curry's blog one of the commenters ChE, made a statement about confusion many people have with "The National Grid".

It is impossible to have a true "national electrical grid" without futuristic room temperature superconductive wires. That is a long way from happening. I have commented on various ways to extend the usefulness of the existing grid, but never really explained why. Wire is not a perfect conductor so there are line losses. The wires get hot and that is an indication of the loss of energy. Voltages are kicked way high to reduce current flow, which is the main culprit behind line losses.

Spreading power plants in anticipation of current load reduces the line losses. So more and smaller power station is part of the solution of extending the useful life of the grid(s)serving the country. Wind power in the middle of no where has more line losses which is another limit of that form of energy. Wind is effective if a reasonable load is in a reasonable distance of the wind farm, provided base load or peak power generation is available to balance out the no wind times. Massive solar power farms would have the same problem.

Allowing growth of base load demand is another reason I prefer smaller modular power plants. They are not a great idea for huge metropolitan areas, but perfect for mid-size areas nearing the current/power rating of the grid serving them.

This is also the reason that I promote off peak hydrogen production. Even at a lower than desired efficiency, it allows storage of energy where the power source is not easily adjustable with demand. Also fuel for peak demand generation as needed.

Hydrogen storage works for all scales of energy requirements. A home solar or wind system with hydrogen storage is capable of providing consistent electricity under more varied situations. Subterranean hydrogen storage can provide prolonged peak power as needed on large scales.

No comments:

Blog Archive