The Grid is in Danger!
And no, it is probably not a 2012 Solar Flare that is going to take it down, but energy-hungry machines threaten to suck it dry. Sarah Connor here, with another edition of the Sarah Connor Control Chronicles, and today we are focusing our attention on the economy of electricity. During the Event, held February 8, 2012 in Atlanta, industry expert Dave Molin of Honeywell presented a very comprehensive presentation called “Building Momentum.” In a previous Sarah Connor Control Chronicle, we investigated Dave’s review of U.S. energy consumption trends. Today, let’s take a closer look at Dave’s insight on the predicted strain on the power grid, and how one solution offers the quickest payback with immediate benefits.
Since I am Sarah Connor, and I am known for my dedication to save the planet from Terminator doomsday, I have seen the future. Trust me when I say that the power grid could become about as reliable as a full refrigerator in a houseful of teenage boys. Yes, you know my son John? A fully-stocked refrigerator can be emptied in the blink of an eye. In the future, our power grid could be just the same; reliable one day, and the next it is nothing but rolling brown-outs. What do you do when you are hungry, and the refrigerator offers only expired salad dressing and a moldy peach? There are really only three choices: Go hungry. Go shopping. Get creative. The same thing applies to a stressed power grid.
We all know that feeling when the electricity goes out and we just keep flipping the wall switch. Our instincts scream for that which normally never crosses our mind. Life as we know it slows or comes to a complete stop. When the power grid gets stressed, so do we. Going without just isn’t an option.
Sure, when we run out of electricity, we just need to make more. Perhaps that means building a new coal plant. Nuclear plants are another alternative. Or let’s just build one of those alternative renewable energy plants, like harvesting wind or solar or geothermal power. Take a look at this table showing the investment payback and the timeframe to expect benefits to begin. With a new coal plant, expect 10-15 year payback with 2-3 years before you begin to see benefits. With a nuclear power plant, expect that payback to be more like 20 years, with at least 5 years before you can see benefits. And renewable sources? Often the investment cost exceeds any expected payback, and the time before you see any benefits really varies. Shopping for a new energy source may not be the best way solve the power grid strain.
Trust me. I’ve seen the future, and saving the grid rests in your hands! By being creative with energy efficiencies, the investment payback can be as soon as 2-5 years, and the benefits are reaped immediately. The Smart Grid is the solution. But this is more than just smart meters. Automated Demand Response meters and then automatically controls usage. Imagine elevators that slow, lights that dim, and fans that reduce speed automatically during peak demand. And at the heart of all of this… yes, CONTROLS! Take a look at the map showing your state and where it stands in energy efficiency efforts. According to the American Council on Energy Efficient Economy, we have lots of room for improvement. So it’s time to get creative. Through Stromquist, you have access to leading experts ready to help. Start the conversation today. Share with us a current project or installation where you are on the leading edge in improving energy efficiencies. Or share a challenge you are having. Please comment now, and let’s get the conversation going!