With all the talk of ways to achieve cheap, clean energy and all that given record oil/gas prices, overpopulation, global warming and so on, there is one issue I’ve not seen addressed: Electrical transmission.
The transmission of power over current power lines is incredibly inefficient. I’m no power-grid wonk, so I won’t pretend to know the the numbers, but suffice to say a lot of the potential energy created is lost before arriving in a house or business.
I’m sure there are a bunch of folks looking into this, and they probably don’t receive much press (or funding) just because increasing electrical transmission isn’t as a sexy as an electric car or emission-free solar power, for example.
But if we could just double our efficiency rates for electrical transmission, this buys us a lot:
- It would cut our need for coal at a given plant by 50%. Wow!
- One of the big complaints about atomic power is that they have to be located close to cities to maximize throughput. We could potentially build new A-plants further away and keep the same end-user wattage.
- Sun and wind powers have negatives because the infrastructure required is big and ugly – as with atomic power, as far away from populations as possible. Right now, that’s a problem (have to get that electricity to the masses). With better power lines, this may be possible/more feasible.
Face it, we are working with basically the same method of AC power transmission George Westinghouse/Tesla worked on when they were battling Thomas Edison. Greatly enhanced, but same basic premise: Push power down fat wires; branch off on smaller wires for home/areas etc.
Obviously, the technology has greatly improved, but it’s the same issue as with the hard drive of today: You can dress it up, put pixie dust on it, but it’s still a Winchester drive. That’s one of the reasons why solid state drives (such as in Apple devices) are creating such interest/applause.
Oh, did I mention that solid state drives use a fraction of the power Winchester drives need?
I’m sure I’m missing something, but I never read anything about any radical overhaul of electrical transmission.
My guess is that – if you’re reading this – it’s probably the first time you’ve run across it, as well.