Cascading Power Failures
“How can a large-scale power outage occur from just a single component failure?”
The modern power grid is a feat of human ingenuity. One of the most interconnected systems in existence, it allows for terawatts of power generated to reach millions of consumers. However, this great interconnection comes with one drawback. If even one component fails, then the additional stress on other parts can cause more failures which can cascade until a completed blackout occurs. These Cascading Power Failures are a utility’s bane and resilience strategies must be developed to counter the probability of these events.
How to Properly Use Distributed Energy Resources for Resilience
“How should we use distributed energy resources to build resilience?”
Distributed energy resources such as solar and wind energy are shaping up to be the next dominant paradigm in energy. And one of their most touted benefits is the increased resilience that they will bring. However, research has shown that this will only occur if they are deployed in a careful manner. This means that they will need to be planned to provide backup to vulnerable transmission lines, relieve congestion, and be placed under control of grid operators. This is How to Use Distributed Energy Resources for Resilience.
Wholesale Electricity Markets
“How do utility companies purchase electricity generation?”
Utility companies are responsible for transmitting electricity. However, they do not always own generation facilities. Instead, they may purchase it on a competitive platform known as a wholesale electricity market. This decoupling of electrical generation and transmission can create a multitude of opportunities for Power Purchase Agreements.
How Community Choice Aggregators Can Offer Cleaner Energy at Lower Rates
“How can community-sourced energy be cheaper and greener?”
There is a revolution brewing in the renewable energy world. While in the past residents and businesses were tied to one electric utility based on their geographic area, organizations known as Community Choice Aggregators are starting to sprout up and challenge this. Community choice aggregators or CCAs are non-profit organizations that procure power generation and deliver it to customers through a utility’s transmission lines. Since these do not operate for investors and only need to pay for energy and staff, they can give their customers better rates than traditional electricity service and focus on particular resources. To illustrate, just look at the CCA San Jose Clean Energy. Even though their energy portfolio is 45% Renewable Energy/80% carbon-free, they sell energy at rates 1% lower than the standard San Francisco Bay Area PG&E service which is 33% Renewable Energy/78% carbon-free. This is How Community Choice Aggregators Can Offer Cleaner Energy at Lower Rates!
Bulk Power Systems
“What is the outer layer of the grid?”
The electrical grid consists of multiple layers. The outermost infrastructure consisting of generation, transmission, and control infrastructure excluding localized distribution is known as the Bulk Power System. In the United States, the bulk power system is regulated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
Phasor Measurement Units
“How can we use sensors to synchronize the grid?”
The electric grid is one of the modern technological wonders of the world. However, its dynamism means that it often goes out of sync. To solve this, utilities can place Phasor Measurement Units onto the grid that can estimate the magnitude and phase angle of current or voltage.
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Superconductors in the Transmission Grid
“How can superconductors be beneficial for the transmission grid?”
Losses by electrical resistance are one of the largest contributors to inefficiency in the power grid system. However, if the normal wiring materials were replaced by superconductive materials which lack any resistance, then this issue would dissipate away.
Image credit http://www.meidensha.com
The US Interconnections
“How is the US power grid divided up?”
The United States is a large country. Spanning between two major oceans, it is truly a wonder to behold. But this might be too large for a single interconnection. Instead, the US is divided up into multiple separate interconnections, which together make up The US Interconnections. It is mainly divided between the Western and Eastern Interconnections, with the Texas Interconnection being a small subset.
Image link https://www.eia.gov
Why Transmission Cables Need to be Lightweight
“Why do transmission cables need to be lightweight?”
Transmission cables are what connects the modern grid together. And one of their most important properties is their weight. The lighter their weight, the weaker their sag. This is Why Transmission Cables Need to be Lightweight.