What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Monday, 11 May 2009

Smart Grid basics

With all the talking and funding going to the smart grid I though it might be good to include a basic explanation of the technology. Follow the link to OpenAlex for an excellent discussion on the topic.
Here's an excerpt;

"Our current energy system is an enormous one-way conversation: our electricity use tells utilities how much power we want; they either give it to us or the grid goes down. Making
the utilities’ job even more difficult is the fact that individual energy use is highly uneven. Home electricity use can increase by 700 per cent in the space of minutes as we arrive home to cook dinner, and by 300 per cent every time we boil a kettle of water. The end result is a costly and inefficient system. Generators have to be built, maintained and fuelled to meet these spikes and then idle for much of the rest of the day. Some estimates show that the top 10 per cent of our generation capacity is used as little as one per cent of the time.

Smart grids offer an alternative to this dysfunctional set-up. The new grid is made up of a series of components: Smart meters provide minute-by-minute billing, allowing the utility to give clients incentives to shift major appliance use to times when electricity is plentiful, and therefore cheaper. Smart-switching allows clients or utilities to automatically disable non-essential appliances at times when the grid is under strain. Visual displays mounted in your kitchen can show you when electricity prices are high, how much each of your appliances is using, and remind you to reconsider the way you are using power.

Overall, this helps even out energy use throughout the day and significantly reduces both peak energy demand and the increased generation capacity needed to meet it. Just making
the way we consume electricity more visible to us can reduce overall consumption by 15 per cent."

Get Smart: Reprogramming North America's Largest Machine

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