Clean Energy with Howard Penrose
Welcome back Howard to the Podcast. Howard is the founder of Motordoc and is heavily involved with IEEE and SMRP. Though, briefly, tell us about yourself.
My entire career has been about electric machines and systems from my time in the Navy. I later had short stints both in repair business and teaching at the University of Illinois. I also ran the energy resources at the University. I later went into the test equipment industry and afterwards started a repair shop named Motordoc. Currently involved in a lot of ESG projects and Utility works in solar energy and wind turbines. Also I am the vice chair of American Clean Power.
In this episode we covered:
- Do the utilities know what they need to ramp up for?
- What are the industrial facilities doing especially in degasifying their energy through electrification?
- How are we to take advantage of this clean power if the infrastructure cannot support it?
Our discussion today is about the impact of clean power on the grid, generation and supply. Any concerns?
None so far but the application of wind and solar energy has been ongoing since 1984 although initially at a smaller scale. In the 1990s the decommissioning of older coal power generation plants started because they were too expensive to run and maintain. There was an increased demand and supply for wind and solar equipment as the cost of fuel increased.
In the meantime, the grid itself hasn’t significantly changed since the 1910s apart from the changes made in communications. So we have come up with some variations for voltage corrections but based on the same old technology. We have installed VFDs and computers onto the grid introducing new instabilities that affected the reliability of the grid and its bulk power.
The introduction of solar and wind energy onto the grid has faced challenges whereby the controls in the system that are supposed to correct voltages cause damages to the turbines. The old method of building the distribution systems is causing resonance back to the turbines. This causes the generators to fail and wear and tear on the machines.
Have you seen a challenge in getting access to the grid for clean energy by companies that are going for degasification of their energy sources?
Yes. Emerald and Berkeley National Labs faced a challenge of introducing 1.4tW worth of data to the grid that was broken. It also happened in Texas where they have islanded their grid. So when they had a breakdown it became difficult to supply power to them. There are 246 deaths attributed to this failure in Texas.
The current grid is not able to move power from remote to local locations. Smart grid was introduced for its flexibility and resilience to be adjusted to changing conditions. The main issue is to ensure that the distribution systems can support the power generated. We are currently witnessing through electrical signature analysis that the power generated exceeds the bulk power of distribution systems is too soft.
How are we to take advantage of this clean power if the infrastructure cannot support it?
The utilities have struggled with it too. But a solution that we are seeing is that a lot of companies have developed their own power generation. The smart grid systems are also being used to direct power through relays to where it can. A more significant solution is the bipartisan infrastructure build-through. This has converted some localised grid systems to national grid towards the end of 2021. We also just launched the department of energy study portion which partly is meant to provide loans for utilities to be able to build out and repair the grid since some of the equipment is so old. Firstly, the initial corrections have to be put in place and then an increase of 60% in US grid size by 2035 to maintain where we are. By 2050 we have to be thrice the present size.
There are several challenges including; technology changes that have to be made, NIMBY( not in my backyard) also causing a pushback to expansion. There is also a challenge of islanding the distribution systems where the supply is local, especially in remote areas.
The pushback to infrastructure expansion in Canada is similar and causes a ripple effect in the sense that local businesses end up facing challenges in power supply.
It’s because of the lack of an understanding of the requirements to avail power by the general public.
Do the utilities know what they need to ramp up for?
No. The traditional methods of forecasting demand for electrification has failed because we
did not have a history of utility scale green energy until 2002. The technology and policy surrounding this issue is facing challenges because it is relatively new (20years of age).
What are the industrial facilities doing especially in degasifying their energy through electrification? Are the utilities looking at the impact it will have on the grid?
There are models in places like Quebec where everything has been electrified. The companies have to monitor the grid and supply sources of the areas that they build their facilities to be able to harness the energy.
There is a push for changes through public policy and the general public but it will take time to execute electrification. Mistakes will be made along the way because the changes face multiple challenges such as power distribution timings, capacity and laws.
There are challenges in forecasting demand as well.
Companies need to match the plant degasification targets, forecasting, and practices with the corporate and public policy objectives. Because the company’s needs fluctuate.
We have to look at the impact each consumer or facility consumption will have on the grid and other users.
Howard Penrose Links:
- Howard Penrose LinkedIn
- American Clean Power Association
- Past episodes with Howard Penrose
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