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Author: Eric Hsieh

35% Renewables – The Good News and the Better News

35% Renewables – The Good News and the Better News

The Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS), released yesterday by the National Renewable Energy Lab, proclaims the good news: integration of 30% wind and 5% solar is “feasible” in the west. There are some minor caveats, notably a dramatic increase in forecasting accuracy along with increasing generator scheduling granularity from hourly to several times an hour. Conspicuous in absence is the lack of extensive discussion on the role of energy storage for regulation. (The authors admit, Read more [...]
Cow Computing

Cow Computing

In a Disney-esque circle-of-life marriage between high tech and big agriculture, researchers from HP have proposed powering server farms with waste from dairy farms. In a nutshell, methane from bacteria-digested cow manure would be used to generate electricity. About 10,000 cows could supply enough juice (milk?) for a 1MW data center. While co-located power solutions are not new to data centers or industry, the HP proposal is a reminder us that everything has a carbon footprint, and we’ll Read more [...]
Announcing Vids for Grids: NEMA’s Upcoming Educational Video Series

Announcing Vids for Grids: NEMA’s Upcoming Educational Video Series

The Department of Energy announced nearly $100m in grants to fund worker training and educational programs to develop a smart grid literate workforce. (see press release) Among the 54 selectees was Vids 4 Grids, a joint proposal from NEMA, Northern Virginia Community College, George Mason University, and NEMA member manufacturers. The project will create a dozen new media-friendly videos highlighting smart grid equipment, electrical manufacturing careers, and electrical engineering concepts. The Read more [...]
Carbon Pricing Creeps into DOE Rulemaking

Carbon Pricing Creeps into DOE Rulemaking

The Department of Energy's latest appliance efficiency standard rule monetizes the cost of carbon dioxide emissions. The rulemaking for Residential Water Heaters, Direct Heating, and Pool Heaters was released on March 31. The rule uses the a range of estimates for the social cost of carbon: $4.7, $21.4, $35.1, and $64.9 (in 2007 dollars). The second-lowest estimate ($21.4) would roughly double the price of electricity from coal generators, which would significantly skew the cost-benefit Read more [...]
Press the EMP Key

Press the EMP Key

A nuclear explosion outside the earth's atmosphere produces an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). While there has been recent Hill, media, and fictional attention on the subject, EMPs have been a threat since the nuclear age. The grid does have certain vulnerabilities, and this post outlines what is (or isn't) at risk from EMP damage. While heavy power system assets such as switches and transformers are largely immune to immediate EMP interference, EMP-induced surge currents could overwhelm some Read more [...]
Connecting the Dots in Waxman-Markey

Connecting the Dots in Waxman-Markey

Waxman-Markey will require 20% renewables by 2020. To see how that changes the power generation industry, I plotted the EIA’s business-as-usual case versus the HR 2454 requirements. How do we get from here, the EIA base case, to there, the 290% increase in  Waxman-Markey? To connect wind energy alone, the Department of Energy estimates that we will need 12,000 – 19,000 miles of new high voltage lines at cost of $20 to $26 billion. Without grid access, remote renewable projects Read more [...]
House Committee Seeks Ways to Modernize, Expand Grid

House Committee Seeks Ways to Modernize, Expand Grid

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Friday to discuss the future of the transmission grid. As noted in this blog before, obtaining federal permits can sometimes be as time-consuming as coordinating between states. Rich Halvey from the Western Governors Association noted that the federal permitting process can take 5 to 10 years. Chairman Markey barely covered his incredulity, noting that sometimes it is not the states, but “The federal government [that] serves as an impediment.” Read more [...]
GPS and the Grid: The New Weakest Link?

GPS and the Grid: The New Weakest Link?

By 2010, the GAO predicts that the probability of maintaining at least 24 satellites may dip below 95%, the service quality standard set by the Air Force. Due to development delays, the current constellation of GPS satellites may begin to fail before new satellites are ready for launch. Normally, this news might be of interest to national defense and navigation system buffs, but the U.S. electricity grid is slowly developing its own dependence on the GPS system. Syncrophasors are highly accurate Read more [...]
A Little Ol’ Transmission Fable

A Little Ol’ Transmission Fable

At a meeting of western states on the subject of renewable transmission, one state official lamented that the major obstacle to new lines, in some specific cases, was the federal government itself, with disparate agencies creating multiple hurdles. I found the comment non-intuitive. Isn’t transmission siting primarily restricted by disagreements between states on cost recovery and a NIMBY mentality? Since the comment was made in an off-the-record setting, I filed it and moved on until substantial Read more [...]
Smart Grid Spectrum: License to Collide?

Smart Grid Spectrum: License to Collide?

Reuters is running an article today on spectrum for smart grid devices. The debate pits economics against reliability – use of unlicensed spectrum is cheaper because no FCC license is required, but dedicated spectrum reduces the occurrence of interference with other transmissions. Devices have coexisted in the unlicensed bands for some time. For example, bluetooth and wifi already play nice with each other. For the mission-critical smart grid applications, some dedicated spectrum may eventually Read more [...]