Local versus global electrical power

Up until recently, AC Power Distribution was the most efficient way to move electrical energy about. But right back at the beginning of electricity, it wasn’t obviously the case. Thomas Edison had favoured DC voltage and current distribution but was defeated commercially by almost all other comers because the technology to do AC Voltage Transformation, the transformer, was just easier top make than a DC version based on the technology of the day.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

You can read more about this era in the War of Currents. This was the 1880’s of course. Probably the highest fundamental invention decade so far. But that is for another post.

Modern DC Power Distribution

Wind forward more than 100 years and the technology to transform DC voltage and current, at high efficiency, is mainstream. Of course the incumbent AC infrastructure is wide spread and not easily displaced. But DC is winning ground in new installations.

In Australia, Basslink is connecting Tasmanian power generators to the Victorian electricity grid using HV/DC or High Voltage DC Technology. It is now the technically superior offering.

World Power Grid

And so the new opportunities open up for sharing power across the globe. The current plans are just for grid connect. But if you consider renewable energy as a major contributor, if we have a globally connected grid then the solar power generators sun side can be supplying the night side communities and 12 hours later the other way around. If solar goes global and the grid goes global, then the fluctuating and time of day dependent power generation can be balanced out globally. What we can’t make economic in a single region, can suddenly become overwhelmingly compelling across the globe.

That will require quite a lot of collaboration and market trading beyond what has traditionally been possible, but the pay off would prove worth it. I am going ahead of what we can currently do, but I also believe this is where we have to get to.

Global Power Grid

Global Power Grid

For more information on the current state of play, check out the IEEE article on Let’s Build a Global Power Grid.

And you can be sure we will be doing all we can to support the push.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.