These featured projects go above and beyond the typical energy, tech to better supply power to the grid from “Smart Grid” tech to the use of SCCO2 in revamping power cycles. With a world population of over 7 billion and growing the pressure for new and improved energy sources has increased for a more eco-friendly, efficient, and abundant grid.
So, What’s Next For The Energy Grid?
While people have begun to run there on power sources with small-scale solar paneling and such, there are even more technologies and projects soon to come into play.
Firstly, new “Smart Grid” technologies have emerged. The Office of Electricity writes that such “technologies are made possible by two-way communication technologies, control systems, and computer processing. These advanced technologies include advanced sensors known as Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs) that allow operators to assess grid stability, advanced digital meters that give consumers better information and automatically report outages, relays that sense and recover from faults in the substation automatically, automated feeder switches that reroute power around problems, and batteries that store excess energy and make it available later to the grid to meet customer demand” (US Department Of Energy, 1). This is a project that comes with opportunities and challenges but may provide a way to modernize the electrical delivery system we have currently. This project will take some time because as the DoE writes, “A critical component of grid modernization is a coordinated, strategic research, development and demonstration (RD&D) effort that involves both the public and private sectors”(The Office of Electricity, 1). Hence, research trial and error and development will take place to ensure a clean and safe working “smart grid”.
Some benefits to implementing the “Smart Grid” include:
- Reduce the cost of energy production/consumption
- Customers will have close to real-time control over energy bills
- It Will help create bigger scale electric vehicle searching setups
- Lower the risk of power surges/blackouts/burnouts
- Provide a way for the grid to meet the increasing energy demands, etc
Additionally, a researcher for Georgia Tech’s School of Mechanical Engineering is working on a next-generation power plant project. This would include revamping power plant cycles and designing new infrastructure materials. One of these projects includes the working fluid for producing electricity through turbines being replaced with supercritical carbon dioxide (SCCO2) rather than steam.
Some benefits of using SCCO2 include:
- Generators being able to extract more power from turbines
- Dramatically smaller equipment made from the best materials
- Reduced production costs
- SCCO2 allows for dry cooling in environments such as the desert (best for solar collection), etc
Asegun Henry, an assistant professor of heat transfer, combustion, and energy systems writes, “Using SCCO2 in concentrated solar plants could push thermal efficiencies from 45 to 60 percent, enough to be competitive with fossil fuel” (Georgia Tech, 1). Although some challenges and kinks are included, this may be a great option for the future of energy and electricity.
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