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19 Jan 2023


Jonathan Carroll B.Eng( Electrical)
Director & Engineering Manager


Interview With Dr. Steven Koonin, Energy Adviser to President Obama.

Power Grid Secrets: Why Your Electricity Bill is Increasing

I am an electrical engineer with over 20 years experience, and the one thing that gets drummed into our heads is reliability. Thats because industry, hospitals, education and homes (hot/cold days) need power, and thats why the cost of wholesale power can be between $50-$15,000 per mwh and why first world grids have been designed to have 1 day of down time in ten years so 99.9997% reliability.

Power Grid Reliability & Challenges

Reliability is the most important factor for power grid, as even a momentary power outage can have serious consequences. To ensure that our power grid is as reliable as possible, engineers aim for a standard of 99.9997% reliability, which translates to just one day of downtime in ten years. But reliability is not the only important factor to consider. Stability is another crucial aspect of our power grid, and it can be tricky to achieve.


One of the biggest challenges to power grid reliability is a phenomenon known as dunkelflaute (German word for when the sun doesn't shine and wind doesn't blow). It is a period of time when solar and wind power production is low, and traditional generators have to step in to fill the gap. Our grids are designed to handle up to a month of dunkelflaute, but it is still a significant challenge. Because of dunkelflaute, achieving a power grid running off 100% solar and wind would require firming the wind and solar with at least the same amount of gas, coal, or nuclear power, effectively doubling or tripling the cost of generation.

Traditional Generators vs Solar & Wind Power

Traditional synchronous generator's have a different type of inertial power compared to solar and wind power, which can disconnect during network events, causing a cascade outage. This is not the case with synchronous generators, which can drive through network events without jumping off. However, adding components such as synchronous condensers to solar and wind projects can help maintain frequency during a network event, but it comes with extra costs.

In conclusion, understanding the nuances of dunkelflaute and the reliability of our power grid is crucial for making informed decisions about our energy future. The less time power is out, the better it is for us, and the less time wholesale prices are at $15,000, the cheaper we as consumers pay for electricity. The cost of achieving a 100% solar and wind power grid is high, but with the right understanding, we can design and operate our power grid more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Follow this link to watch interview with from Dr. Steven Koonin ๐Ÿ‘‡

#power #design #electricity #electricalengineering #renewablenergy #solar #windenergy #gas #coalpower #nuclearenergy

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