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EpicSquats

Storing Electricity in the national grid?

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OK so the electricity is made then sent to your house, basically. Is it stored somewhere along the way to be used later? Or not? How does it work? Cheers. My main question is, can you store the electricity somehow to be used later.

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Just now, EpicSquats said:

I'm too stupid to understand that, but thanks.

You cannot store electricity on large scale. It is created and delivered instantaneously (did I spell that right?). But you can store excessive energy by converting it into another medium, in this case combustible gasses, like using electrolysis to create hydrogen fuel from water and storing it in tanks or pipelines to combust it later to power gas electrical plants or hydrogen propelled vehicles.

You can store electricity on small scale, ie. solar panels combined with accumulator, charger and inverter for power supply off grid, but these are low voltage direct current systems with high losses.

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I work in the electricity distribution industry, mate.

The answer is not as simple as you'd imagine. We can't really store energy very well....yet. The electricity we use is alternating current electricity, and there is no way of storing this...at least on a large scale. 

There are a few ways we can kinda store energy but they are rather primitive and only supplement generation at peak times. An example of this is the Dinorwig pumped storage hydroelectric scheme where electricity is used at times of low usage to pump water up to a mountain reservoir. At times of peak usage, water is released from at the dam and powers the hydroelectric power station, generating extra power to supplement that generated at normal power stations fuelled by coal and gas.

Things are changing rapidly, though. There's major investment, not only by National Grid, but also the smaller distribution companies, into DC electricity conversion and storage....so basically massive batteries. As battery technology improves (which it rapidly is, thanks in part to the electric vehicle industry) and renewable energy advances and grows in popularity, we may well move away from a 'national grid' back towards local energy cooperatives that generate and store energy for use in their own areas.

 

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6 minutes ago, spod said:

I work in the electricity distribution industry, mate.

The answer is not as simple as you'd imagine. We can't really store energy very well....yet. The electricity we use is alternating current electricity, and there is no way of storing this...at least on a large scale. 

There are a few ways we can kinda store energy but they are rather primitive and only supplement generation at peak times. An example of this is the Dinorwig pumped storage hydroelectric scheme where electricity is used at times of low usage to pump water up to a mountain reservoir. At times of peak usage, water is released from at the dam and powers the hydroelectric power station, generating extra power to supplement that generated at normal power stations fuelled by coal and gas.

Things are changing rapidly, though. There's major investment, not only by National Grid, but also the smaller distribution companies, into DC electricity conversion and storage....so basically massive batteries. As battery technology improves (which it rapidly is, thanks in part to the electric vehicle industry) and renewable energy advances and grows in popularity, we may well move away from a 'national grid' back towards local energy cooperatives that generate and store energy for use in their own areas.

 

So, does the energy that's made in the electricity power plant ( or whatever it's called ) all have to be used  or it just gets "thrown away" somehow because it can't be stored? 

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13 minutes ago, spod said:

The answer is not as simple as you'd imagine

Don’t know if you can answer this but I was arguing with a mate that as it stands cars that run in hydrogen fuel cells are not green (he said they were pollution free)

Obviously the exhaust “fumes” are just water. I argued that the problem lies with the fact that you have to get the hydrogen out of water to use in fuel cells and the energy it takes to do this is many times more than the hydrogen you get in return. Plus you cannot store hydrogen for long as it escapes from everything. I’d say with the current technology hydrogen production/power is in fact very dirty? Is this right?

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18 minutes ago, EpicSquats said:

So, does the energy that's made in the electricity power plant ( or whatever it's called ) all have to be used  or it just gets "thrown away" somehow because it can't be stored? 

Alternating current electricity is made by massive turbines, mate. Think of it like a car engine...you can tootle along all day at 30mph in 3rd gear, but when you need more power to go up a hill, you step on the gas a bit more. Your speed doesn't change, but the engine is working harder.

You aren't 'throwing away' energy when you're driving on a flat road....you're simply not generating as much as you would when you drive up a hill. 

The amount of electricity generated by power stations is constantly fluctuating, and meeting demand from one second to another is one of the biggest challenges faced by National Grid.

 

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10 minutes ago, Sasnak said:

Don’t know if you can answer this but I was arguing with a mate that as it stands cars that run in hydrogen fuel cells are not green (he said they were pollution free)

Obviously the exhaust “fumes” are just water. I argued that the problem lies with the fact that you have to get the hydrogen out of water to use in fuel cells and the energy it takes to do this is many times more than the hydrogen you get in return. Plus you cannot store hydrogen for long as it escapes from everything. I’d say with the current technology hydrogen production/power is in fact very dirty? Is this right?

I'm not gonna pretend to know anything about hydrogen fuel cells, buddy, but i'd agree with your thinking in that if the energy used to extract hydrogen is created from, say, fossil fuels, the energy then produced by that hydrogen can't be said to be truly 'green.'

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Just now, spod said:

I'm not gonna pretend to know anything about hydrogen fuel cells, buddy, but i'd agree with your thinking in that if the energy used to extract hydrogen is created from, say, fossil fuels, the energy then produced by that hydrogen can't be said to be truly 'green.'

Yeah, my thinking is on the basis that there is no hydrogen in the world, it’s all bound to oxygen = h2o. So you’ve got to separate them again which uses a terrific amount of energy 

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10 minutes ago, Sasnak said:

Don’t know if you can answer this but I was arguing with a mate that as it stands cars that run in hydrogen fuel cells are not green (he said they were pollution free)

Obviously the exhaust “fumes” are just water. I argued that the problem lies with the fact that you have to get the hydrogen out of water to use in fuel cells and the energy it takes to do this is many times more than the hydrogen you get in return. Plus you cannot store hydrogen for long as it escapes from everything. I’d say with the current technology hydrogen production/power is in fact very dirty? Is this right?

Not neccessarily. There was a study recently that showed that electric cars have a larger co2 emission per kilometer than petrol based cars simply due to structure of production of electrical energy and grid losses. But electric cars do not cause local pollution with exhaust fumes and like you said hydrogen exhaust fume if water vapor. Hydrogen does have its problems and risks.

Pretty much depends what you count into dirty, direct pollution emmited, carbon footprint, manufacturing process of power generating facilities and their recycling... (photovoltaic panels are packed with toxic metals and are hazardous waste).

Hydrogen, it would be better replaced with a more universal energy storing molecule. Using excess electricity to trap atmospheric carbon dioxide with water and turn it into an energy bank...

2CO2 + 3H20 -> C2H5OH + 3O2

An ethanol based economy would solve all of worlds problems, the age of aquarius.

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1 minute ago, Sasnak said:

My head hurts! Where do you get all the ethanol from to power the world?

Damson plums are my prefered source. Apricots are nice also.

...

The point of power-to-gas is to create excessive production of electricity from clean sources and use it to create synthetic fuels to replace fossil fuels. As time goes by renewable sources are becoming cheaper and cheaper. Wind is now cheaper than nuclear and Earths capacity of generating electricity from wind with current technology is 16 times global electricity demand.

Power-to-alcohol would be even better, with 7kCal per gram, it could also be used to end world hunger,  can be used to fight diseases... ethanol is a miracle molecule.

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Wow, an intelligent and interesting conversation on here! I’m amazed! Spod is spot on, I work in the electrical engineering industry but more in the control and automation sector rather than distribution. If you’re ever in the North Wales area, go to Llanberis and have a day in the ‘Electric Mountain’ and you can see for yourself the Dinorwig scheme.

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Fairly certain, you can use things like a tesla power wall to save electricity for later but this will be DC and think they would usually be used to save power generated from solar panels also DC.

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About 35 /40 years ago the telephone company used to have huge lead /acid battery's (same idea as older car battery's ) . The one I visited was about 100ft wide and  3ft deep. 

 One of the only school trips I actually remember. 

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8 hours ago, Gary29 said:

Wow, an intelligent and interesting conversation on here! I’m amazed! Spod is spot on, I work in the electrical engineering industry but more in the control and automation sector rather than distribution. If you’re ever in the North Wales area, go to Llanberis and have a day in the ‘Electric Mountain’ and you can see for yourself the Dinorwig scheme.

My firm did some maintenance work on a similar power plant this year here in Croatia. RHE Velebit in hinterlands of Zadar, 276/240MW. Was a fun drive to get there.

RHE_Velebit_4.jpg

RHE_Velebit_3.jpg

RHE_Velebit_2.jpg

RHE_Velebit_1.jpg

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4 hours ago, Goranchero said:

My firm did some maintenance work on a similar power plant this year here in Croatia. RHE Velebit in hinterlands of Zadar, 276/240MW. Was a fun drive to get there.

Nice! It does look very similar.....apart from the weather 

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13 hours ago, Gary29 said:

Wow, an intelligent and interesting conversation on here! I’m amazed! Spod is spot on, I work in the electrical engineering industry but more in the control and automation sector rather than distribution. If you’re ever in the North Wales area, go to Llanberis and have a day in the ‘Electric Mountain’ and you can see for yourself the Dinorwig scheme.

Ive been to Dinorwig for work and it was a great experience.  Going several KM into a mountain and getting to the see the turbines up close was very impressive.  I do find it funny that it costs them more electricity than they produce to run it.  

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