Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Urgently Needed: A Dumber, Tougher Grid

A “request” published by the famous IEEE Spectrum today (2012-11-21) asks for a

Dumber and Tougher Electric Grid !!


“Since the hurricane and “nor’easter” that devastated the New Jersey and New York coasts two weeks ago, leaving millions without heat, gasoline and electricity, there has been a lot of loose talk about how a smarter grid might moderate the effects of such catastrophes in the future.

The smart grid will indeed have a role to play—especially in speeding recovery. As Massoud Amin of the University of Minnesota recently put it, “a more resilient, secure and smarter infrastructure…would localize impacts and enable a speedier restoration of the services.

However, what we need even more urgently than a more agile and interactive grid incorporating advanced computing and communications in all dimensions is a grid that’s basically old-fashioned, stupid and really, really tough. … brittle wooden electricity poles would be replaced with stronger steel poles, or the distribution lines …”

My personal experience is that many “dump” people have not allowed many “smart(er)” people to exactly to do that: replace xx by yy … very often they were not allowed to do so! To make the system more robust is known form more than 130 years!!

Read paper on “Smart Grids – A 19th century invention”

“Since the 19th century engineers have developed, tested, used on a large-scale and continuously improved suitable solutions for the safe and reliable operation of the rapidly growing supply of ever more applications with electrical energy. During the sustained further development of the supply systems, it is necessary to handle the available resources (energy sources, technical installations and individuals with experience) as well as the laws of physics both responsibly and in a "smart" manner.”

The rallying cry should be: to do this (replacement of poles and “dump” people, … ) and not stop doing the other (implementing smart(er) equipment and smarter ways to deal with energy and especially electric power).

While I am writing these lines I listen to a radio report telling that part of the city Karlsruhe (my home town) is in dark: a huge blackout … electricians are on their way to check substations what has caused the outage … they recommended to have a flash lighter at hand – just in case … one of two transformers tripped … they are working on the other to take over …

News on Karlsruhe blackout (German only).

More to come … I mean more outages to come … have a flash light in all rooms … in your car …

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