The current system of generating electricity centrally and distributing it through the grid wastes as much as sixty per cent of energy -and it ain’t about to get any better, a leading UK academic has told Off-Grid.
He estimated that energy losses in the power grid during generation of electricity are between 45 per cent and 55 per cent, depending on the technology used. The transmission system run by National Grid which does the bulk shipping of electricity in the UK, loses a further two or three per cent. Local distribution networks run by big power companies have losses of between five and seven per cent.
“The local distribution networks have higher losses than National Grid because they operate at lower voltages,“ explained Professor Green.
Limited generating efficiency
But he said that it would be too expensive to make transmission more efficient and that generating efficiency is limited by the laws of physics. “(Transmission efficiency) could be improved if one was prepared to invest heavily in more wires and cables. But frankly it is not the biggest problem facing the industry.”
For networks, the real issues are how to accommodate low-carbon sources, such as wind, and still run a reliable and cost effective system, he said.
The story is very different for generation where he said efficiency is the biggest problem the industry has. “In energy generation you simply cannot achieve 100% efficiency -or anything close to it because of thermodynamic limitations such as maximum operating temperatures.”
However he was anxious to separate the issues of power generation and transmission, which he sees as unrelated, “It is highly misleading to lump generation and transmission networks together and give an overall loss figure because there are two different sets of issues at play and two different approaches needed.”
Of the conventional generating technologies, There are several competing generation technologies and some are more efficient than others, he said. “Combined Cycle Gas Turbines can achieve 55% efficiency or so and beats coal stations which do well to achieve 45%. If one can find a use for the “waste” heat in combined heat and power then the overall [efficiency] can be substantially better,” he says.
But he argued that conventional power sources compared well to newer technologies such as photo-voltaic, “Photo-voltaic panels have efficiencies in the range 10-25% depending on materials and cost.”
For more info or syndication contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you decided to go off the grid and looking to make the move?
We can help you find the ideal off-grid community and want to film you as you make the transition.
If you’re interested, submit a short video (3 minutes) .here: http://www.off-grid.net/videos/ - in the video give answers to the questions below:
Can you tell us about yourself - work, home etc?
Where you live now – city and country – and where you want to live? Why you want to make this move now?
What will be hardest to leave behind?
What you most look forward to leaving behind?
Who will be making the move – just you/ friends/ family etc?
What could you offer your off the grid community i.e. special skills/ resources?
If you are already off the grid, would you like to host a family of newbies as we film them beginning their off-grid life? Can you write up your own experiences and contact us? Or can you handle a video camera?Please send us your videos and photos - or feel free to write about yourself for the web site.
Do you rely on your own healing powers when you are ill? Or is there an unqualified nurse in your local community?
We want to hear from people who do their own doctoring - using their own herbs and remedies, setting their own broken bones, dealing with their own bodies.
Why do you do it? How do you do it? Contact email@example.com
Off-Grid.net is investigating the Utility companies --power, water and waste.
Do the water companies conceal their knowledge of the pollution of the water supply? Do the power companies conceal the wasted energy inside the system, and their excessive profits?
We need help to find the smoking guns: memos, SEC filings,confidential legal advice internal emails..... send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity guaranteed
Can you handle a video camera? Or a cellphone camera that can upload to our youtube channel?
We are looking for people who currently live off-grid anywhere in the world, and for people who want to live off-grid and are about to do so. This might be in a community or an individual situation
Please send us your videos and photos - you can upload videos on off-grid.net/videos - or feel free to write about yourself for the web site. Contact email@example.com
An interactive map showing who wants to go off-grid , and where they are, and who has land on offer.
How it works