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Decentralisation of electricity net
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HamSandwich
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May 6, 2014, 11:15 AM
 
Hey guys,

I have a question that I brought from university a while ago. I wrote a paper on photovoltaik installations, with batteries, for houses, smaller companies, middle class etc. Somehow, my fantasy went away with myself a bit and I wonder...

Why do we still have an electricity net? I mean, everything we learn is dedicated to using a net, supporting a net, reconfiguring the net, extending the net etc. Couldn't all the energy in a nation be produced exactly where it is needed? Is this the 30 years plan, to reduce the electrical energy within the net through decentralization until the net is no longer relevant and can be demolished? Where is the answer? Is this scientifically explored appropriately? What do you think? Do you have a photovoltaik installation on your house and did you do the math, because you could find out it is just as expensive as getting energy from net?

I know there are different situations - when you try to produce enough electrical energy for a factory, the situation is different, or from a neighborhood etc. Still, where's the answer to the riddle?

Pete
     
turtle777
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May 6, 2014, 01:26 PM
 
Oh, geez, where to begin.

Maybe here: Do you ONLY need electricity at home when the sun shines ?

-t
     
andi*pandi
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May 6, 2014, 01:38 PM
 
Entry expenses to making your house solar/wind are a large investment.
     
HamSandwich
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May 6, 2014, 03:01 PM
 
Well, true, both... Batteries and photovoltaik installations are getting cheaper and cheaper and so, 100% net independence should be possible. I thought... in Germany, energy prices are steadily rising, but prices for PV are falling, so in the long run, it should be cheaper to produce your own electrical energy.
     
turtle777
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May 6, 2014, 03:16 PM
 
Individual batteries for each home ?

God help, the EROI will kill this.
No way this will ever be done on a large scale level.

-t
     
subego
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May 6, 2014, 04:04 PM
 
Minor point, in English it's "voltaic".

Don't take that as a slam. You have excellent English.
     
HamSandwich
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May 7, 2014, 01:54 AM
 
Oi, voltaic, right. Anyway, at university we aren't really taught like this. I mean, so I have a major in energy science, sorts of, and I should know and I keep wondering and wondering. I thought about simply asking around at my teaching staff, but I think they usually argued that it is true what I am saying, and that we just don't need a net in a hundred years, but that it is not a current situation. However, Apple states they often produce 100% clean energy for themselves for their buildings and centers. What's the truth? In a world with a decentralized net, the advantages are real, solid, graspable: You don't have HV-lines everywhere in the country, and no one who demonstrates against them. You don't need to worry about HV-transformation all the time, and all the smart grid discussions are just way off.
Isn't this the 30 years outlook?
     
Spheric Harlot
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May 7, 2014, 03:49 AM
 
There is currently no feasible technology to store electricity on the scale necessary to supply a city, or even a village. It does not exist.

You may also have noted that photovoltaics are NOT a viable method of generating electricity in Northern Germany. Nor in Germany as a whole - it's far too densely populated. We don't have the space to "waste" on solar panels. Wind works, but wind energy an not option in the South.

In fact, one of the biggest obstacles to the energy revolution ("Energiewende") that Merkel managed first to kill and then reinstate after Fukushima (lining the pockets of the energy company lobbyist the second time, at the expense of us voters who had already decided this over a decade earlier - in 1998) is the fact that renewables can only make sense if we have MASSIVE power lines to transfer the energy from where it is being generated (windparks in the North Sea) to where it is needed.
This is the single biggest problem we're facing at the moment, because the government has just decided "oh, we're doing this", and have failed to figure out who's going to be building that infrastructure, let alone PAY for it.
Second, you have to build these lines somewhere, and nobody's going to want them in their backyard. I don't know if you've been following what's been going on with wind generators, but entire villages have gone to court over supposed biological effects of having a single wind generator within viewing distance.
     
Shaddim
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May 7, 2014, 08:15 AM
 
I'm no longer on the grid, we went to NG fuel cells. We considered solar but it wasn't practical for our needs.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
- Thomas Paine
     
Laminar
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May 7, 2014, 08:45 AM
 
Decentralization is inherently inefficient.

JollyWombat comments on The Koch Attack on Solar Energy - At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it’s a tax on something the country needs: solar energy pan

That's the first thing you should try to wrap your mind around in this debate: taking all of your resources, and putting them randomly all over the country, instead of a few key places, costs TONS more in materials, in fuel, in power, and maybe more importantly, it requires a network that is designed for that kind of traffic.
...
For the amount of money the utility company was going to have to be shelling out to these investors for the next 20 years, they could have built a sodium-turbine solar collection plant[3] capable of much higher output for more hours in the day, for less money, less environmental damage, less space.
...
You can't power a whole house on solar unless you forego an AC, a heater, a dryer, or a stove, or you use tons of batteries, which means you aren't contributing to the grid, but it also means your using thousands of dollars of additional resources to just keep your own lights on. But the cherry on top of this scheme, for the utility engineer, was that our megawatt system was going into an area that was obviously never wired for a megawatt of power to be running loose. So the utility was forced to rebuild a huge portion of their network, just to make it capable of carrying the juice we were suddenly going to feed into what was always built from the ground up to be a one-way system. This isn't a political problem, it's an engineering problem. If you want to be able to sell power on the grid from anywhere, whenever you want, you need to size the grid the same size everywhere, because who knows where more power will show up?
     
OreoCookie
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May 7, 2014, 09:38 AM
 
I suggest you have a listen to Episode 2 of the podcast Pragmatic titled »The Battery Problem«. It is devoted to exactly this problem. According to the host, an Australian electrical engineer who also worked on power plants, solar power with energy being stored becomes feasible in Australia. There are other ways to store the energy for a small community, storing it in the potential energy of water is one way.

However, energy storage is still a difficult problem, so it may be more feasible to transport energy over large distances (i. e. to make it into a smart grid). This tectonic shift makes few, big, centralized power plants (which are very profitable) unsuitable for the new grid, because they have been constructed for a base, mid and peak load breakdown of electricity generation.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
   
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