The design for a better power grid could help reduce both the frequency of blackouts and the cost of electricity, as well as offer an improved plan for handling the intermittent power sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, which can destabilize the network. (Credit: Mykl Roventine/Flickr)

 
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY – Posted by Megan Fellman-Northwestern on Monday, March 4, 2013 16:32

Blackouts are so 2003: Synching the power grid

NORTHWESTERN (US) — Even as the demand for electricity grows, new guidelines could help improve power grid reliability and reduce electricity cost, researchers say.

President Obama, in this year’s State of the Union address, talked about the future of energy and mentioned “self-healing power grids”—a grid that is able to keep itself stable during normal conditions and also to self-recover in the event of a disturbance caused, for example, by severe weather.

But as the national power-grid network becomes larger and more complex achieving reliability across the network is increasingly difficult. Now scientists have identified conditions and properties that power companies can consider using to keep power generators in the desired synchronized state and help make a self-healing power grid a reality.

The design for a better power grid could help reduce both the frequency of blackouts and the cost of electricity, as well as offer an improved plan for handling the intermittent power sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, which can destabilize the network.

“We will be looking at a completely different power grid in the future,” says Adilson E. Motter, professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, who led the research.

Read more: Futurity.org – Blackouts are so 2003: Synching the power grid.

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