Sunday, October 25, 2009

Local electric power production and storage is needed

Two cases when adding new consumption or production capacity (Tool) leads to unintended consequences for the existing infrastructure (Distribution).

The first example relates to the predicted increase in the number of electric cars in California:

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- California’s push to lead U.S. sales of electric cars may result in higher power rates for consumers in the state, as a growing number of rechargeable vehicles forces utilities to pay for grid upgrades.

A typical Santa Monica circuit, which serves about 10 households, may be overloaded should two or three of those customers charge vehicles simultaneously, even if they do so overnight during off-peak hours, Ted Craver, Edison’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview on Oct. 20.

While surplus power is available at night at cheaper rates, the grid needs adjustments to handle such charging, Craver said. For example, additional or larger transformers may be needed in neighborhoods with numerous plug-in car owners.

In the second example, Science magazine describes the potential impact of biofuel production on the water distribution infrastructure:

Biofuels promise energy and climate gains, but in some cases, those improvements wouldn't be dramatic. And they come with some significant downsides, such as the potential for increasing the price of corn and other food staples. Now, a series of recent studies is underscoring another risk: A widespread shift toward biofuels could pinch water supplies and worsen water pollution. In short, an increased reliance on biofuel trades an oil problem for a water problem.

Making matters worse, other U.S. energy sectors are growing and increasing their demand for water. Another recent report from Argonne by Deborah Elcock, an energy and environmental policy analyst, for example, found that water consumption for energy production in the United States will jump two-thirds between 2005 and 2030—from about 6 billion gallons of water per day to roughly 10 bgd—driven primarily by population growth. About half of that increase will go toward growing biofuels.

tags: five element analysis, tool, distribution, system, greatest, maturity, hype, energy

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