Friday, January 4, 2008

UK Announces "Super Grid" and Massive Wind Power Investments

"Next year we will overtake Denmark as the country with the most offshore wind capacity." - John Hutton, UK Business Secretary

One of wind powers big shortfalls is it's inconsistent nature. The unpredictable speed it blows and therefore the hard to model contribution it might provide to a nation's energy grid are an entry level issue many wind projects deal with. There are several technology fixes for this short coming of wind the most promising being smart grid technologies.

The "Smart Grid" being those electrical grid tying and coordinating technologies that allow a next generation power infrastructure that is much more efficient, distributed, and smart enough to move power to where its needed far more efficiently than it currently is today.

It looks like the UK is moving forward with such a plan to weave distributed wind power generation significantly into the island's energy portfolio. With initial estimates of 7,000 new wind turbines and a willingness to raise the cost of electric bills to do so this is no small undertaking. Read the story at Plenty Magazine's website as well as the BBC.

According to the articles a company called Airtricity is responsible for the actual development and welcomes this type of project as the future path for all of Europe. At Airtricity's news page they have a series of press releases with several discussing the "Super Grid" concept.

For more in depth and easy to follow information about smart grid technologies I emphatically recommend The Clean Tech Revolution. Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder cover this market opportunity smart grid technology offers to today's investors. The authors of this awesome book also have a blog worth checking out as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Super Grids Taking Shape

For over a hundred years power providers have essentially relied on their customers to notify them of power outages. Without any automated-detection system in place, power companies don’t know the power is out until a customer notifies them. This will change with the deployment new wireless sensors from a company based in Australia.

Telepathx Ltd, a wireless sensor developer based in Victoria, Australia, recently announced that the release of their new product will make this inherent dependency on energy customers a notion of the past. Telepathx Ltd is among the leading industry developers of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in Australia.

The long-awaited release of Telepathx’ Pinpoint intelligent cutout sensor uses the company’s enhancements to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to provide utility companies with the instant communications they need to pinpoint electrical outages. With Pinpoint sensors in place on a smart power grid, should a failure occur the power utility is notified within seconds of the precise location of the power failure including the specific device and cabling that have failed.

Power failure reporting at this level of precision has never before been attainable, but now with AMI technology taking shape throughout Australia, these sensors can be used that will minimize power outages to an absolute minimum.

According to April Sommers, an energy analyst, “Statistically 84% of all power outages or blackouts in urban and outer urban settings are caused by falling tree limbs or animals that come in contact with the overhead power lines, this intelligent cutout fuse technology can’t stop that from happening, but what it will do is provide an instantaneous notification to energy providers reducing the report and response times of faults from hours to mere seconds, something entire communities will benefit from.”

Previously, a power company could remain unaware of a power outage for minutes or even ours until telephoned customer complaints give a general idea where the issue is happening. Pinpoint sensors will greatly enhance a utility’s ability to respond to problems and enhance their ability to efficiently dispatch work crews to fix the problem.

Smart power grids will effectively manage themselves and notify the proper authorities when necessary. Sommers adds, “reducing customer minutes off supply or CMOS is what these guys [Pinpoint sensors] do best, forget about managing apparatus with streams of data or waiting for calls to come in; this reactive technology teaches the network to manage itself and alert authorities when something’s amiss.”

Telepathx general manager Mike Walsh confirms that “In addition to bringing intelligence to energy networks the multi purpose machine to machine (M2M) wireless sensor networks being developed by the company would for starters monitor fire ignitions, auto collisions, floods, mudslides, asset tracking and consumer/industrial alarm systems, reading water, gas and electric meters or AMR/AMI services would follow.”
It’s very clear that the ongoing effort to develop smart meter technology has very far reaching effects in efficiency, monetary savings, and enhanced public safety. Smart meters will reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere, but will have many other consequential benefits once the items become commonplace.

James Eades, CEO of Telepathx, adds, “This communications aggregation platform was designed and developed to consolidate the fragmented communications services that exist in our urban areas, and will benefit entire communities not just the energy sector; essential service providers such as police, emergency services, transportation networks operators, utilities even sewerage plants and M2M operators would benefit from leveraging services off the platform.”

Commenting on the Pinpoint sensors, Eades said “We have developed what many are calling the optimal model for building out the intelligent distribution grid; for the simple reason that our platform goes well beyond managing energy assets to generate revenues the day it’s installed not decades. Currently we are also exploring opportunities with several smart meter manufacturers on the issue of converging and leveraging of each others platform, a move that will make meters more intelligent than ever imagined.”

Pinpoint sensors integrated into smart meters and home appliances have the potential to create home area networks (HANs) capable of remote control of appliances in the home by either the individual consumer or the power company. RFID technology operates over radio frequencies, eliminating the need to install computer equipment that other wireless technologies require.