Tuesday, September 30, 2003


'Smart' Power Grid?  

'Smart' Electricity Grid Under Study

NEW YORK (UPI) -- America's existing electricity grid cannot handle the expected three-fold increase expected by 2050, particularly when solar sources and wind farms are added.

Columbia University researchers say they've assembled a national team of scientists, technologists, security and intelligence experts to spearhead development of a "Smart Electric Grid" -- one both lean and efficient, that can meet the nation's future energy and security demands.

The North American economy's demand for electricity is expected to triple from the current 7 terrawatts to as much as 20 terrawatts by 2050.

Columbia's Roger Anderson told SpaceDaily.com vast new renewable energy sources from wind, solar, and geothermal power generation must be added to present gas, coal, hydroelectric and nuclear sources. Using new computer controls, all the new sources must move smoothly across vast distances.

Anderson said the new "Smart Electric Grid" must improve efficiency by 50 percent or more in order for the new technology to prove affordable.

The trouble is that this new grid control will be designed by the same old 'Stupid' humans. Oh, well, at least the thing will be newer than the current 50-100 year old grid and its controls, which has to be straining to keep up. It does seem, after reading the reports, that they are facing some of the same problems that face things like the New York Stock Exchange. It consists of dealing with a huge amount of real-time data and displaying it in a meaningfull way, so that problems can be spotted before they become critical.

THEN, we have to deal with the human factor. It's obvious that operators were trying to deal with the problem locally, while the real problem went untouched. Simply because people don't want other people to think that they can't handle problems. Somehow, we have to remove that factor. If we don't, we'll be no better off than we are with the current system.

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