Philadelphia Treehugger John Laumer acknowledges some controversy from his claim that distributed power is “a more useful and important concept than ‘green power,’ per se.” This blog sees as somewhat useful and important to consider and not dismiss such controversy as spin, especially since Treehugger the Blog is not known as a Koch Sock Puppet, although of late, we see Shell ads, similar to Scientific American encroachment. Game, Set, End of Life on the Planet as We know It, Lamb Chop.
For the purpose of discussion, Laumer begins anew with trying to define distributed power. Being a nuts and bolts kind of guy, e.g., eschewing sociology and demography, he quickly runs into trouble. Paraphrasing Laumer: “The intricacies of power grid connections make it difficult to come up with a simple definition [for distributed generation]. Most would agree that there is no direct connection from a distributed power source to a transmission network.”
For help Laumer turns to Ackermann (“Electric Power Systems Research 57 (2001) 195-204; Ackermann et al) for some examples that show distributed generation is diverse.
- A Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system is located on a large industrial site and the industrial customer is directly connected to the transmission network. In this case, the CHP system can be described as distributed generation as it is connected on the customer side of the meter.
- A medium-sized wind farm is directly connected to the transmission system, due to the capacity limit of the local distribution network. In this case, the wind farm cannot be described as distributed generation.
- The produced energy of a wind farm is almost totally used within its own network; however, during nights with very low demand and high wind speeds, the wind farm actually exports energy back into the transmission system [which would make it only half compliant with common definitions].
The net result (hee-hee) of Laumer’s rumination is the observation that distributed power is either connected on the customer side of the meter, or to the local distribution network, or can switch to both. He forgot to add “if allowed”.
Unfortunately, as this blog has noted before, not all power companies are being accountable. Instead of taking responsibility for their impact upon catastrophic climate change, electric utilities reinforce the precepts of Business As Usual And Above All Else.
As this blog noted before utility-scale, renewable energy development primarily is wind or solar thermoelectric, since local conditions and ingenuity influence micro-generation. Distributed power development is more likely to occur where fossil fuels are less preponderant.
Where Emperor Fossil calls the shots, few oppose central control that wastes two-thirds of the energy source while degrading the atmosphere, acidifying the oceans and poisoning the populace.
Although a distributed power source may range from kilowatts to megawatts, its power is not centrally dispatched. (A utility does not primarily control it; although, I wonder if ‘smart meters’ will challenge that assumption.)
Well, John, the shape of the future grid certainly is an intriguing question, as is the how, and the who or what. Changes in China may offer some inkling.
Some Earlier Treehugging posts on Distributed Generation.