Re: ECONOMY: Globalizing Power Standards

zebo (
Fri, 21 Aug 1998 14:46:09 -0500

ChuckKuecker wrote:
> >If there was to be a new global standard for the "electricity grid",
> >meaning the power outlets on the wall, which would be better, AC or
> >DC?
> An AC standard makes most semse for a distribution system. In the
> future, the present copper webworks may not exist, and be replaced
> with small generators or fuel cells at the point of use. Here in
> Illinois, Commonwealth Edison is planning on selling small natural-
> gas powered turbogenerators to consumers who then make their own
> power, free of the grid. The generators will produce 60 Hz AC because
> all our systems expect it now.

I'm not sure that a global system is feasible, possible, or even desireable. An important aspect of this is that the power signals worldwide are split between 50 & 60 Hz.

But it doesn't matter.

The production of power should be localized such that the need for big ol' power plants is minimized because so many people produce energy themselves for their own usage and for sale.

Personal power production should and will become as important in the future as personal transportation is now.

> AC has one big advantage over DC - the voltage can be simply raised
> and lowered with transformers to allow transmission of power over
> long distances. There have been a (very) few high voltage DC
> transmission lines - the one I remember most is a coaxial cable from
> England to France that transfers power from whoever has the surplus
> to who needs it. There's a bidirectional HV inverter on each end of
> the cable to connect to that countries' AC grid.

The generating utility that stands behind the d&t utility from which I buy my power from has a big ol' DC line running from a huge power plant in central North Dakota to the east side of Minnesota. I would guess that this line runs at least 400 miles (640 km).

> If fuel cells or some breakthrough in home nuclear power becomes
> popular, the generator will probably produce DC. In this case, a
> local inverter can make AC for motors, etc. Lighting can work as
> efficiently from either DC or AC.

Don't forget windmills. We will soon be entering a time when the technology used for wind turbines will allow them to be used in more places than thought possible and for a cost that will allow people and normally energy consuming businesses to have one for themselves.

Z - people like me and places like mine ;)