Thursday, October 20, 2005

The transition of the electricity grid

Nobody can predict the future but one thing is for sure: "the power system is changing" and its rate of change increases. This change is driven by regulatory frameworks, policies to increase the amount of renewables and the availability of small-scale technologies combined with advanced information and control capabilities. Power systems are in a transition finding a new equilibrium between costs, performance and risk and the question asked is: "what will be the mix of old and new technologies shaping the grid of the future?". The inevitable introduction of local generation and storage on numerous places in the power distribution network poses the important questions: "who is responsible for the availability and reliability?" and "how is the transition of the grid managed?". Overcoming thresholds and prevention of the reach of a deadlock is of the utmost importance, considering our society's still growing dependence on electrically powered devices.

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As a practial utility engineer, I find it difficult to understand to replace the grid power with DG's. As my understanding goes, the electricity has evolved over the years mainly due it easier, economical and reliable mode of transporting energy. If there were any means by which you can transport energy then I don't think we could have had the larger grids and interconnections.

Anonymous said...

It's fairly well established that distributed generators where the electricity produced is used locally will result in less losses than with electricity that has come down through the whole grid/transformation process. If you're considering a switch to typically smaller renewable energy generators anyway then there are positive cost and efficiency advantages in their distributed nature. One cost advantage is they reduce the need for capital expenditure on infrastructure/reinforcement within the larger network. I wouldn't suggest we are ever likely to be without a grid but using DG sensibly can mean it's smaller and can have positive economic benefits for users, as well as potential environmental benefits through increased use of renewables and reduced energy losses.