Nothing gets our attention
faster than a big breakdown. The Blackout of 2003 in the Northeastern
U.S. and Ontario, Canada affected 50 million people! Within days, every
news agency in the world had done stories about the power grid, and how
interconnected our society has become.
The interconnected electrical
network is the largest, most finely tuned machine in our modern society
and we expect it work 24/7, year after year. As you read the causes
of this event, you'll see that utility engineers actually plan for outages
in power from the big blackout)(Power
grid neglected in deregulation). The control systems are designed
to isolate faults, re-route the power, and if necessary, trip off transmission
lines and generation plants for their protection. However, in just seconds,
the overloaded system cascaded faster than the faults could be isolated.
I don't want to minimize the
affects of this blackout on 50 million people and the lost economy during
those two days. Yet, few deaths were attributed to this 2 day blackout,
and most considered it to be a major inconvenience. Solutions will include
a mix of grid strengthening, new decentralized generation plants and better
communication between power operators.
Now, imagine 40 x 50 million
people without power, which equals the 2 billion people who have no electricity
for their whole lives! This is the global emergency that requires
the attention of all who take a light switch, mass transit and ice cubes
Our timing was excellent for
the September article in WIRED magazine on the GENI initiative entitled
Power Up! The graphic shows that many regional grids planned over the
last decade are now being built. This huge investment will deliver
reliability to energy networks that previously operated only a few hours
a day. Yet, more important will be the water pumps, lights and refrigerators
that will finally be available to millions who struggle daily to survive.
This world wide web of electricity will then enable the remote renewables
to gain market share in a fossil dominated world.
WIRED magazine reaches a whole new audience with the GENI Initiative.
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