Demand reduction of electricity to balance the electric grid

Demand reduction of electricity to balance the electric grid by Alice Friedemann

By the time a smart grid is integrated into all the existing computer systems, wasting electricity with each round-trip of information, (rolling) blackouts are likely to be occurring due to lack of energy, especially for natural gas power plants.

Also, PG&E found that most customers weren’t able to program their thermostats, many had teenagers or other members of the family who secretly turned up the air-conditioning or heat, overriding the smart-grid demand reduction, and so on. Restaurants and other businesses were unwilling to drive customers away by reducing energy use, and large businesses had so many different computer systems running their many kinds of thermostats that writing software interfaces between the utility and buildings to automatically raise or lower temperatures was going to cost more and take more time than expected.

So instead, PG&E is lowering demand by sending an email and leaving a phone message a day ahead of when peak demand is likely, and customers are given lower rates year-round in exchange for limiting electricity use the next day between 2 and 7 pm for about 15 to 20 days of the year.

It’s far more likely that demand will be lowered because of declining energy will shrink the economy, making unemployment rise. Between unaffordable energy prices (even low ones in a deflationary crash will be too high for the unemployed to pay), and eventually rationing if the plutocracy allows it, will be how electricity is limited.

There is only so much demand that can be limited

Domestic and commercial sectors only use 16% of electricity. These domains can limit their heating and cooling, but that only gets about 10% of total energy saved. The most energy-intensive industrial processes such as ammonia (fertilizer) and cement manufacture could only postpone using energy by shutting down for periods of low energy availability, wasting expensive capital. Energy-intense kilns and furnaces can’t switch on and off to match short solar and wind peaks (Trainer).

Trainer, T., 2012. A critique of Jacobson and Delucchi’s proposals for a world renewable energy supply. Energy Policy 44, 476–481.

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