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Best systems for electricity generation?

Discussion in 'Alternative Energy' started by Jules_Theone, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Jules_Theone

    Jules_Theone Member

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    Obviously, I think all electricity generation should be renewable / carbon neutral, but most of the time it isn't practical.

    Recently I've read that Britain is facing an energy short-fall. Power stations will be decommissioned withing the next few years and the replacements aren't going to be built quick enough. Nuclear power stations will be built but will not be operational for ten years. Large renewable wind farms / hydro-electric / solar arrays can be built faster but are expensive and when it's not windy, raining or sunny there will still need to be backup generation such as gas, nuclear, coal etc to fill the gap. At times of peak consumption surplus generation needs to be available in case everyone wants a cup of tea for example. If consumption > generation the system will fail.

    BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Britain facing large energy gap

    I think there needs to be a massive change in electricity generation to maintain energy security. I believe the solution is a lot of renewable generation everywhere, whether its large wind farms, solar arrays or hydro, or micro-gen with a small wind turbine on the tops of high buildings, solar panels on roofs etc. Basically it WILL be windy, sunny or raining somewhere in the world. Also have large short term energy generation and run the distribution network slightly above consumption.

    Another idea is smart appliances which can sense when the grid is being taxed and enter a low power state. Or an internet connected indicator of consumption vs. generation where people can see in real-time if there is available capacity to run the electric shower.

    Please feel free to poke holes in these ideas - you always find problems with my schemes!
     
  2. dknguyen

    dknguyen Well-Known Member

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    We should conserve...it's pretty hard to actually do it enough so it makes a big difference though.

    Even solar, wind, and hydro power are a big pickle when you consider it takes a lot of energy to make the devices in the first place. If they don't last long enough to produce a lot more energy than it took to make them...:(. We need fusion that works as advertised.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  3. SPDCHK

    SPDCHK Member

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    Remember that when you talk about the power grid, it must be remembered that all the generation feeding into the grid must be synchronized to the frequency of that country's grid (50Hz in South Africa). Should one power station trip for whatever reason, you tend to have a dip in this line frequency. Each and every power station monitor this frequency to within 1% tolerance. Should the line frequency fall outside of this range (i.e. less than 49.5 and greater than 50.5) the power station will island itself (remove itself from the grid) to protect the generators. At such a stage all units will have to drop their loads (typically running at 550MW must drop down to 200MW). This is a hell of a shock on the system with result that massive power outages will result.

    Now, adding a small wind farm to the grid will obviously not have the same dramatic effect as a 2400 MW power station loss, but still it must be managed with the same precision as a normal power station.

    Here in South Africa we already face the power shortage that Brittain will face soon. Unfortunately for us, technology in the nuclear field is not advanced enough for us to buy a solution form France or America. We need power and we need it now. That’s why we are currently building two brand new 4800 MW coal fired power stations that should hopefully be finished by 2017. We have enough coal to last us for 100 years, but yes, what about the environment? I trust that our electricity utility company will have the foresight to at least put Sulfur scrubber in. They are compelled to put bag-filters in the flu gas exhaust, but that only catches the big ash particles.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    One thing I have read about that has been proposed for some time now is the global expansion of lower power and micro power generation. That is having millions of independent but still integrated power generation systems spread out.
    Not just large corporate owned multi gigawatt stations. The US is currently in a way working to wards the capability of it by allowing the average person to legally co-generate and get paid for it too.
    The one issue that I have herd about and detractors seem to point out is the actual synchronization issue. Too many little units going on and off causing instability issues.
    However the systems still work with countless millions of power consuming items constantly going on and off at random so how does a 20 kw home wind or solar based system going on to he grid not just equal the equivalent of a 20 kw load dropping off?

    Given the current GPS timing and the NIST time base transmission signals, sophisticated interconnection for phase and frequency stabilizing capabilities should not be that hard by todays standards. We have numerous high accuracy time reference points to work from and as far as interconnection concerns, the simple remote read power meters have already proved that reliable communication to and from point to point using the grid it self as a network connection is viable.
    The large hydro electric and nuclear stations are now and will always play a role in the overall global system.
    Given a more world wide approval to small scale generation would encourage many people and communities to become "system storage silos too" That is they may have a locally viable ability to store energy as a personal resource. They are not a producer or a large scale user. They are just a capacitor or battery in the larger system.

    You will aways have some places that will never be able to produce what they use, and you will always have places that can produce far more than they ever will use and you will always have places that cant produce or use what they are capable of storing.
    Farmer, grain storage elevator, end customer. Three symbiotic systems that beat out food shortage problems decades ago!
    Micro generator, micro storage, end customer. Why not beat down energy shortages that way.

    No wait, This solution wont leave room for corporate profiteering and false shortages used to push those profits higher and could ulimatly lead to cheaper more stable electricity for the masses to be able to develop with.


    Some more large scale interconnection would need to be implemented but I feel that the base timing structure and communication system is already in place.
    Given that ant any point in time there is enough wind, or sun occurring anywhere in the world the global energy needs have a viable source of clean and renewable power that is far greater than what we can possibly use.
     
  6. gabeNC

    gabeNC Member

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    Conserving would impact immediately and cost would be near zero. I saved over $50 dollars a month just by shutting down a rack of computers in my garage. A large UPS, a couple of switches and six computers. Yeah... it was excess I know. Probably will donate some of that stuff so some kid in high school can learn to delete files. :rolleyes:
     
  7. oldchris

    oldchris New Member

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    The NE part of North America has some experience with massive grid failures. I can remember at least 2 in my lifetime - the first caused by solar activity and the second by a simple transformer failure (I think). I've heard talk about "hardening" the grid, but what I see is only basic maintenance.

    Conservation and increased efficiency is terrific and not something you can really argue against. But even if we all turn our PCs off when we're not using them, is that going to balance the increased demand to charge all the electric cars that are supposed to be the way of the future?

    We do need to look at "midi" generation. Smaller dams to support local consumption might not face as many environmental roadblocks as massive projects that flood vast areas.

    Chris
     
  8. dougy83

    dougy83 Well-Known Member

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    There are a couple of companies researching affordable solar power solutions, e.g. SLIVER technology, solar photovoltaics, solar power technology - Origin Energy Australia, and even better: Dyesol
    Catalyst: Solar Prints - ABC TV Science

    The sliver solar panels are made with very thin slivers of silicon, which uses less material for a given output.

    The dyesol panels are a titanium dioxide (cheap) semiconductor infused with some dye, which can be printed onto plastic sheets. This process is very cheap in materials and production costs. I think I heard that the dye longevity in sunlight is currently a problem. That last link is to a tv program: they said they envisioned placing a huge array on each continents to provide all the world's electricity needs.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  9. killivolt

    killivolt Well-Known Member

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    Some time ago I stated that it would be best if we could run single conductors and allow each individual home act as a input to the grid if you have enough input from a combined total into a single input device from several homes generating power the combined total would be relevant.

    Each home could therefor have what ever it's input capabilities are at the time and could therefor be increase as time goes by this be metered an then input that combined total into the grid.

    We might be able to take existing homes with this idea in mind but at this point the real thoughts should be in the planning of hole communities. If we are not depending on costly Batteries putting those dollars into maintaining a well developed Grid tie inverter and sharing the cost would be extremely beneficial.

    kv
     
  10. Jules_Theone

    Jules_Theone Member

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    The main problem with renewables is they are often intermitent, so will probably not be generating electricity when it's actually needed. The solution is to store this energy somehow. I've seen combinations of renewables such as solar / wind --> pumped storage / hydro. Is there a reason this cannot be implemented on a large scale?
     
  11. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    The human factor. We like new things but fear change. Until enough people do it on a smaller scale and show it to be profitable and a realistic undertaking to do people will not readily go for it. :(

    there are people like me that would jump at the chance to do small scale energy storage for off peak to peak load balancing! But until someone shows me how I get $200K to build the storage and pump/generator system I cant do it. :(
    I have looked into energy research grants and things like that but there seems to be a catch 22 on getting them. :mad:
    If you have never gotten one they are unwilling to give you one. If you have gotten one then they will give you more! :mad:
    It's like dealing with at bank for a big loan. You need the money but they wont give you any money because you dont have any. If you have enough money then they want to give you more money even though you dont need it anymore! :mad:

    So does any one want to finance a 20 MWh hydro storage system?
    The land and water source are there, the materials and equipment are reasonable to purchase and install. And a main 3 phase grid line is right on the property! ;)

    100% return on investment within 2 - 3 years! :)
     
  12. killivolt

    killivolt Well-Known Member

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    Why if you just have a DC wire connected and produce it at peak hrs during summer it still would be DC Voltage that could be metered and then compensation would be rendered ?

    I think TCM has it right. Stop thinking storage and input it straight into the grid.

    But, the secret is combining totals and inputing it into the grid from house to house building to building commercial. Keeping them "solar panels" clean and the "genies" maintained might be a problem but the overall reduction in front end cost would be limited and when the storage problem is solved e.g. Low cost, efficient , Low maintenance etc.

    We would bring down the overall cost in the end. You would already have the ability to produce the electricity and have a good start in getting compensated. Then when it's time to invest in a good storage system your already on the road.


    kv
     
  13. Mr RB

    Mr RB Well-Known Member

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    The highest demand for grid mains power is during the middle of the day. This is the peak time that the power companies charge more for. Fortunately it's also the time when solar panels produce the most energy... :)

    Which is why governments of countries and states all over the world are providing special rebates and buy-back schemes to buy the excess power that citizens generate at home and can HELP the grid during the peak times.

    On TV the other night they were discussing the system here in Australia (in I believe 3 states) where the government guarantees to pay "top dollar" and buy your excess power, or the government guarantees to pay the difference between what the power company pays you and the top dollar price.

    Coupled with government rebates to pay for some of the solar equipment to get set up, it's taking off pretty well here.

    And rather than be seen as a "problem" of feeding power into the grid locally, it's seen as a benefit to feed power in locally, which cuts the distribution costs, reduces substation requirements and losses, reduces cable heating etc etc.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2009
  14. killivolt

    killivolt Well-Known Member

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    That's what I'm talking about I think it was" 3v0" that said run a single DC conductor on the poles under the "Mains" that fed from house to house and then maybe you might want a small substation or something I'm not sure all the details but still sounds good to me.


    kv
     
  15. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    I am not following the purpose of the interconnecting the houses with a DC line.
    Doing your own feedback seems more logical. What you make offsets your own usage. What you are then not buying from the utility is simply available energy for someone someplace else to use.
    If your producing more than you need at any one moment then it goes back onto the grid and helps supply the power that is being used some place else.
    Having all of a neighborhoods solar power tied into one central service seems like a waste of materials and I dont follow what overall benefit it would have.
    I would not have any problem with having solar panels on my roof if I am the one that gets first benefits from it. If they are owned by someone else and they get the first benefits they will never go on my roof!
    I think of any small scale generation that is privately owned as being owners needs come first then everybody else second. Every KWh I produce and use myself is one that I did not buy and take from the system. Thusly I provided a KWh for someone else indirectly.;)

    But the issue of power storage is probably the biggest challenge the overall world electrical systems are facing when going to cleaner renewable power sources.
    I would personally like to see far more development of privately owned storage media. The pumped water hydro method is by far the cheapest and lowest set up and operating cost method I know of.
    Its environmentally neutral and with a larger sized systems it has recreational and public use benefits too! Being the pumping and hydroelectric return systems are all electric and based on century old and well proven system designs it is a very solid and low maintenance storage system.
    Its viable any place there is enough elevation change to run the generators. If I am remembering the numbers correctly 200 feet or more is the practical working elevation change needed for small and medium scale systems, 10 -1000 MWh capacity, to work efficiently.

    Even us flat land prairie dwellers can come up with a 200 ft elevation change In a short distance!:D
     
  16. Mr RB

    Mr RB Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Tcmtech, why re-invent the distribution system? It is already in place, and the only problem (a common problem) is that it's running close to capacity in most places. It just needs more people feeding power in locally (or reducing what they use by generating locally for their own house).

    Micro grid-tie is very cool... I was looking at 150w inverters now the size of a soda can for $30 USD and fully solid state so I guess efficiency wont be too bad. It's not a big stretch to modify one of these and pump your 80 watt solar panel straight back into your house mains (after checking local laws). Considering a 80 watt panel costs hundereds $$ it looks like the future will be allowing grid-tie at a tiny percentage more cost that your panels themselves.

    And not much more of a stretch for the Chinese manufacturers of these little devices to "mod" them in house and sell grid-tie versions next year...
     
  17. killivolt

    killivolt Well-Known Member

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    Still you have the cost of this .....



    How many potential Watts could I produce realistically from my own panels on my roof 240 sqft of space to mount them ? How many Watts would be produced by a small Community.

    How am I going to convince the power company that the voltage I have to put back into the grid is not potentially harmful to them or my neighbors. We alone cannot convince them but if I meter my DC voltage output to a Device that we can purchase together as a community a good Grid tie inverter maybe recommended by the utility company. Our combined total output may be of some interest to the community as well as local Government. This may involve big Government and local Government to get the ball rolling.

    Or Maybe I should just charge my electric hybid car ? Screw the utility company.

    kv
     
  18. Mr RB

    Mr RB Well-Known Member

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    Killivolt, I dont know what US state you are in, but you may find there is already some system in your state to allow grid tie and buy backs etc.

    You could google search or try most newsagents have the "alternative energy" magazines... (just get the ones with pictures of solar panels on the cover, not alien UFOs)
     
  19. killivolt

    killivolt Well-Known Member

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    It appears to be up to 3 kilowatts per for residential output and grid tie inverters are Ok but must meet standard and be installed by a contractor.

    Maybe I should get together with one of my Buddies he's a Master Electrician maybe it's not to much for him to get the contractors license. He has his own business installing up Grading Refineries.

    So I figure I can put about 1.5 kilowatts on the roof. Just a guess there are some kits that I saw at Costco four panels put out 60 watts. I'm going to get a contractor to come see how much I can do with my limited space maybe he'll gimme a better price than what I can do for myself ?


    kv
     
  20. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    You make me laugh sometimes KV! :p:D
    A contractor that will do work cheaper than for what the person that needs the work done can do himself . Now thats funny!:D:D:D

    Get some how too DIY books and some tools. Your money ahead and probibly will get a better quality of work done too!;)

    When you do it wrong and it breaks, no big deal. When you pay big money and it breaks then its a big deal.
    Personaly I can live with doing it wrong myself. Its when I payed someone to do it wrong for me that I get wound up!;)
     
  21. killivolt

    killivolt Well-Known Member

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    ;):D

    kv:)
     

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