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Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? #195928 08/31/10 01:43 PM
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 613
mikesh Offline OP
So many of the posters and proponents of alternate energy solutions seek to get off the grid which I am coming to think is a bad approach.

By connecting to a complex and smart grid could we not exchange our energy better? we generate when the wind blows or sun shines and consume when we don't. We use the grid to stabilize and offset consumtion. On hot and clear summer days the grid gets lots of added power from our little home solar systems and the hydro and steam powered generators can throttle down or in the case of some hydro, pump the water back up the hill with the surplus.
I would think the socially responsible approach is to increase the grid ties rather than get off.
The more producers makes the grid more reliable, but of course more dangerous too, as the power can come from many more sources.

Tools for Electricians:
Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: mikesh] #195932 08/31/10 06:13 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,233
HotLine1 Offline
Of all the solar installs in the Twp I work in, they are all grid tied. I have not seen any that are stand-alone.

There is one wind turbine job, 4KW that is 'designed' with storage batteries, and no grid tie as of yet, and that is not in the job scope.

The thread that is titled 'Big' is a POCO project, and it is grid only, and classified as a generation installation.

Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: HotLine1] #195944 09/01/10 09:02 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 2,233
harold endean Offline

I some rural areas around here I have seen out buildings ( garages, barns) that are not on the grid at all. They are stand alone systems. Most of the time, the PV systems are connected to the grid.

Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: harold endean] #195967 09/01/10 09:26 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
LarryC Offline
Part of the issue is, are we talking about Transmission or Distribution grid ties?

Where are the most losses? How do we deal with large area variations when the sun goes behind clouds or the storm front blows through? How do you deal with islanding? What about remote generation tied into a remote spur that requires upsizing the spur? One of the issues with using a variable output power source is maintaining grid stability. Ramping up and down hydro is not a 5 second operation. Gas Turbines are 15 minutes to bring online. Coal and biomass may take 6-12 hours for large power shifts.

Grid stability may initially go down before it comes back up. Unfortunatly I don't not know of any quick responding, large capacity power absorbtion / storage / regeneration technologies that are commercially available and economically viable yet. Flywheel systems are beginning to address this but they are not wide spread yet.

How many substations are setup to take power From the distribution system and push it back into the transmission lines to be used somewhere else?

I'm just doing my job of stirring the pot. smile

Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: LarryC] #195968 09/01/10 09:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,233
HotLine1 Offline
You bring up some good points Larry. Within my Twp we have modest resi systems dumping into the 120/240 secondaries, comm jobs, dumping 480, 3 phase into the secondaries of the respective pad mount xfrs, and I guess in theory...back to the primary (13.2/25 KV) distribution. One could also guess that it could be 'used' at a neighboring non-solar occupancy, or find it's way back to a sub station. That I will leave to those who have more theoretical brain cells then I.

The instability of the generation source as to weather related, time of day, season, maintenance, etc. are things that I have thought about, and debated with a few solar installers. No concensus was made, but opinions are plentiful.

One upcoming job is 4.26 MW in an industrial area. My opinion on that...the refrig whse will use a quantity, and some of the adjacent facilities will probably consume the balance.

Anybody else have opinions???

Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: HotLine1] #195971 09/02/10 01:36 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 404
noderaser Offline
If the ads are any clue, this mystical new "smart grid" technology will solve everything, although I'm not exactly clear on what said technology is and why it's so important if grid-tie systems worked just fine before. Sounds to me like just another buzz word for the naturally occurring evolution of generation, distribution and metering technology.

In theory, it sounds best to me to keep everyone tied together. While solar isn't going to keep the lights on at night, it can at least help with the peak usage during the daytime. Until cheap storage comes around, we'll probably be dealing with large base load generating stations for a very long time... At least until we have macro power grids of superconductive materials, so we can pull solar from the other side of the world :P

Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: noderaser] #195976 09/02/10 12:24 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,569
gfretwell Offline
I think there will be some "fuel charge" savings to be had in these distributed energy systems but all of the fixed charges will end up being higher. You still need the capacity to supply the whole grid in a blizzard so the utility still needs the same plant. Having it sit idle may actually be more expensive than running it, from a maintenance standpoint, and you need the crew in there ready to pull the trigger at a moment's notice. In subtropical environments, big storms can come up with a moment's notice.
It is certainly more convenient for the homeowner to shift the management of their excess power over to the utility instead of storing it on site but there ain't no free lunch.

Greg Fretwell
Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: gfretwell] #195985 09/02/10 11:35 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 404
noderaser Offline
Perhaps smaller generators, such as gas fuel cells like the "Bloom Box" will find their way into substations, to supplement what is already available in the neighborhood. That could take over for the solar/wind/etc. when it's not sunny or windy.

I'm not saying that centralized power plants should or will go away soon, but there are smaller-scale technologies that people will want to cash in on. There will always be a need for base-load generating, and I'm sure there are plenty of smart people who can figure out demand models for traditional generating stations and contingencies for when the weather doesn't pan out. It's not a change that is going to happen overnight. These small-scale things are probably not going to do serious damage to big power any time soon. It may be that, as time goes on and better technologies become available, the supplemental power is used to phase out dirtier tech like coal.

Ironically, the solar highway project I posted about a while ago had its first day of grid-tied generation when all of the panels were covered in snow. They even produce some power (around 500W) at night, although nowhere near the designed capacity of 104kW.

Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: noderaser] #195986 09/03/10 01:43 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,569
gfretwell Offline
Wonder where the 500w comes from at night?

Is it from 50,000w of HIDs ringing the plant to show off how we are saving you money?

Greg Fretwell
Re: Off Grid or expanded and smart grid? [Re: gfretwell] #195999 09/03/10 07:55 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,803
Alan Belson Offline
Streetlights! Here, just a cotton-pickin' minute.... crazy

Wood work but can't!
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