How a Smart Grid Could Change Power Distribution

Mar 21, 2015 by

How a Smart Grid Could Change Power Distribution

Power is produced from many sources, including fossil fuels such as natural gas, methane, petroleum and coal. Other energy sources, such as the wind and sun, are more environmentally friendly. Electricity is the “power” that ultimately comes from these sources.

How we use electricity is the question of the century, and finding more efficient ways of using it is the target of much research. Often, when we believe we have found a solution, we have simply changed how we are creating the problem. The electric car is a good example. It runs on a battery. It does not spew CO2 into the atmosphere. We want to think of it as “clean,” but where does this car get its energy? Oh, yes”from a battery.

Looking at the battery, we see that it must be recharged at an electric outlet. That looks very clean; plug it in”no fumes. But look deeper. Where does the outlet get the juice that goes into the battery? It comes from a power plant that makes electricity from wait for it fossil fuels!

To some extent, our electric car has driven over a cliff. We do need more efficient ways to use electricity, and while this car is helping the atmosphere on the road, the power plant has just puffed out a bit more carbon in its efforts to replenish a battery.

Another area where we are falling down with true savings is how we distribute the electricity that we produce. Historically, all power plants burned fuels, produced electricity, and fired it down the line through power cables that reached consumers in the company’s area.

Today, when a company produces more power than it needs, it can sell that power to another company or a community, again distributing it by cable. But there’s a new guy on the block (the power grid), and change is in the wind (and the sun in the form of solar power). Think “sharing.”

We will hear more and more about the grid as it unfolds, but this is going to shed a lot of light on energy savings. As our grids are set up, the idea is to make them larger and larger so that no energy is wasted. When one area is fully fed, the remaining energy can be sent through the grid to needy areas. Best of all we can share the less expensive power derived from wind turbines and solar panels.

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