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Last post Author Topic: Where does the power go when I save it?  (Read 7765 times)

Perry Mowbray

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Where does the power go when I save it?
« on: June 08, 2008, 06:24:15 AM »
I'd like to know where the power goes when I save it, say by using energy efficient light bulbs, or reducing my usage (e.g. Earth Hour)?

Quote from: Earth Hour
On March 31 2007, for one hour, Sydney made a powerful statement about the greatest contributor to global warming – coal-fired electricity – by turning off its lights. Over 2.2 million Sydney residents and over 2,100 businesses switched off, leading to a 10.2% energy reduction across the city. What began as one city taking a stand against global warming caught the attention of the world.

OK, assuming that the figures are right, what happened to that 10.2% of electricity?

I pretty sure that we don't have storage devices to cope with that amount of power (in New Zealand I think they use the excess power, say at night, to pump water up hill to produce hydro power later on), so I would have thought that the power is either wasted before it gets into the grid or it's wasted at the other end?

For power not to be wasted would mean that the power would have to not be produced in the first place. I'm not sure what sort of lead time they'd need to adjust the production on that scale??

Anybody got any clues?

lanux128

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2008, 06:37:29 AM »
AFAIK, all power that is generated - whether they are from hydroelectric or fossil fuel (diesel, coal, etc) - goes waste unless it is kept in a 'reserve' pack aka batteries. the amount of reserve varies from country to country from 20% to 40%. no one actually knows how much is needed, it's all estimates. that's we have brown-outs, when demand outstrips supply temporarily. of course, all these i came to know only from the newspapers because our monolithic power company is raising their tariff beginning this July. >:(

tomos

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2008, 06:45:18 AM »
cant really answer your questions
I suspect it would be a slow change - but if consumption were reduced they would follow cause of wasted costs.

I've heard that if everyone in Germany regularly turned off all appliances instead of leaving them on standby, we'd need one less nuclear powerstation -
I presume that's an estimate but makes you [me!] think
Tom

lanux128

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2008, 06:49:06 AM »
btw, also check out this website. 8)

Saving Electricity and Power Consumption.

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2008, 06:52:27 AM »
Thanks Lanux: just searched Google for something like you mentioned in Aus: not a lot  :(

Tomos: I've been looking at where my power disappears to lately, and I was a little shocked to find out that my computer uses 11W even when it is turned off and powered down!! Not sure when the term Vampire Power was crated, but I was shocked to find some lurking in my home! But one whole power plant seems a lot?? I now turn my stuff off at the wall.

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2008, 07:01:01 AM »
btw, also check out this website. 8)

Saving Electricity and Power Consumption.

Thanks: laughed when I read his page about computers! I was amazed when my desktop's screensaver came on: the power usage actually went up! I'm using Picasa's at the moment that pulls graphics from my NAS, and I guess there's a bit of computing going on scaling and panning the image.  :o

tomos

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2008, 07:01:58 AM »
Tomos: I've been looking at where my power disappears to lately, and I was a little shocked to find out that my computer uses 11W even when it is turned off and powered down!! Not sure when the term Vampire Power was crated, but I was shocked to find some lurking in my home! But one whole power plant seems a lot?? I now turn my stuff off at the wall.

well there's a lot of people here :) (80 million+ and it is a gadgetland!)
I didnt know that about "vampire power"
I've taken to plugging out the power supply here lately cause it's thunderstorm season (getting more like rainy season the last few years as opposed to summer) and I still havent invested in a UPS thingy - which probably also uses up a lot of electricity :(
Tom

lanux128

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2008, 07:08:55 AM »
as you are in Australia, i think the term should be "minimum reserve level". so maybe you'll have better luck with this link: http://www.google.com/search?q=federal+"minimum+reserve+level"

also as tomos mentioned, pulling the plug is the best way. that's why i wonder why the electrician place the power socket so low in the wall? (rant)

cranioscopical

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2008, 07:37:07 AM »
Quote
Where does the power go when I save it?
Well, currently, according to the label on the thing into which I plug various hardware, mine goes and hangs out in a bar!

A lot of the power plugs on computer items that I use are out of sight and thus relatively inaccessible.
I saw somewhere that Belkin (iir) has/will have a remotely controlled power strip.
While doubtless that in itself will be a vampire it'll probably be a better solution than every single item playing Dracula.
I haven't yet found where to buy one.

@Tomos: Unplug! Just had the USB input to one of my printers fried in a thunder storm round here.


Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2008, 07:38:45 AM »
as you are in Australia, i think the term should be "minimum reserve level". so maybe you'll have better luck with this link: http://www.google.com/search?q=federal+"minimum+reserve+level"

Hey, brilliant Lanux!!

But reading one of the documents referenced, defines reserve as:
Quote
The reserves are determined by adding the installed generation to any generation ‘equivalent’ such as interruptible load and subtracting the peak load.  This yields the MW installed reserve.  The reserve margin is the reserve divided by the peak load expressed as a percentage.

So, from that, I'd be assuming that the Reserve is not stored, but planned to be wasted  :huh: The whole aim of the document I read was to prove that brownouts were "guaranteed" to be less than 0.002% or something: that is having the power on tap when required:

Quote
The utilities and regional power systems of the developed nations in North America and Europe have identical patterns in developing installed generation reliability criteria.  Each begins with a sophisticated probabilistic analysis of the existing and planned future generation system
together with forecasted customer load.  The result of this analysis is a minimum requirement for generation to be installed to meet customer load while providing the level of reliability consistent with the selected probabilistic reliability measure.

In North America the measure is usually related to the probability of generation not being able to meet demand—loss of load expectation (LOLE) or loss of load probability (LOLP).  In Europe the measure may also include the probable amount of energy that cannot be supplied in a given year relative to the total amount of customer energy—expected unserved energy expressed in “system minutes.”

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2008, 07:48:01 AM »
Quote
Where does the power go when I save it?
Well, currently, according to the label on the thing into which I plug various hardware, mine goes and hangs out in a bar!

;D

@Tomos: Unplug! Just had the USB input to one of my printers fried in a thunder storm round here.

We're unplugging here all the time in summer. In fact I've set up the power boards so that it's the minimum of unplugging: for ease!

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2008, 08:05:57 AM »
This was an interesting quote from that document:
Quote
North America is geographically about the same size as Australia but with about ten times the population and 20 times the electrical load

cranioscopical

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2008, 09:53:45 AM »
In fact I've set up the power boards so that it's the minimum of unplugging: for ease!
I'll have to take a leaf out of your book.
There's so much sensitive stuff, in so many rooms, I'd like to find a lazy-man's way to safeguard it.

Clockwork had a lot going for it. :)

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2008, 10:06:13 AM »
There's so much sensitive stuff, in so many rooms, I'd like to find a lazy-man's way to safeguard it.

When I was investigating Solar Power (with backup batteries), the plan was to have a main switch that would disconnect the whole house from the grid, so only a direct hit would result in problems (but oh, what problems that would cause  >:( ).

Our electrical storms generally don't last that long, they're generally small cells passing over. So we can keep an eye on the radar, ears open and finger on the switch...

Shades

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2008, 12:38:05 PM »
Now I know that in Holland there is an active and independend governing body, that makes sure every company that supplies to the grid and every company that takes from the grid are in balance (keeping the score to 1, what goes in must come out). If this score is any other value than 1 it will seek out the "culprit" and hands out heavy fines (from several 100.00 Euro's to the bankrupting kind).

Because of this, most companies use software to detect patterns of behavior in power consumption so nothing is wasted. Luckily most of those "power-off" days are pre-planned so everyone can take this into account, but as it is unknown how many people will participate it will also disrupt the balance.

And guess what...the fine that is payed will just increase the rates from the companies supplying to the grid, meaning it will come out of the pocket of all users. :(

Which is why (in Holland) it is promoted to use energy at night, so grid supplying companies can spread the load over 24 hours instead of the hours that most people are awake. This way, their efficiency in supplying power will go up.

app103

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2008, 01:11:35 PM »
I'll tell you where the power goes when you save it...

My daughter's room, and her 320W of lights that are always turned on...and my kitchen with its 360W of lights.

 ;D

J-Mac

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2008, 02:35:28 AM »
Simple supply and demand answer.  When you "save" enrgy consistently, power companies stop generating as much!  No, they cannot reasonable store the unused power they have already generated.  But they CAN store the fuel (whichever type they are using) that they do not use when they generate less power because the demand is lower.

Jim

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2008, 02:43:39 AM »
On the subject of batteries, I don't know if it is mentioned in any of the articles, but a common storage practise is to use it to turn water into Hydrogen and oxygen, to be later burnt in place of coal.

I'm not too sure how common this is, since I only learned it as a sideline in high school physics.

They also want to use superconductors to create a endless power ring for storing huge amounts of power.

Grorgy

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2008, 04:53:32 AM »
I think J-Mac is basically right, but your base load demand needs to drop below a level where a generator could be powered down.  Saving bits here and there if done by enough people may help slow the rate of increase in power generators but it will take a lot to actually get it to fall to a level where one could be turned off i would think

f0dder

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2008, 06:42:53 PM »
Hehe, google for "tell me why I have to be a powerslave" still has a DonationCoder.com link on the first page - that's pretty frigging amazing, considering we're competing with Iron Maiden ;)

I wish we room-temperature superconductors would be researched soon, as that's the only way we could realistically store power - as it is now (as previously mentioned), power companies try to generate a bit much power than the expected demand, and adapt to the current usage patterns. I wonder how much energy is being wasted daily worldwide. At least the power grid in .dk is stable, even when demands rise... I wonder how much that costs in extra wasted power? :)

On the other hand, not all excess power is wasted, though. For instance, we have a whole lot of windmills in .dk... during night-time, their output generally goes unused. As far as I've understood, this excess power is sent into the european power grid, more or less free of charge (or at least at a very low cost) - but I was half asleep when I heard the programme about it on the radio.
- carpe noctem

PPLandry

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2008, 08:51:24 PM »
Physics 101: energy is neither lost not gained, only transformed... Energy is always transformed into a state of greater entropy.

The sum of all demands create a load (or resistance) as seen by the power plant (weather hydro, coal, nuke). As the load increases (i.e. resistance drops), it will cause a drop of voltage at the power plant (V=RI). The plant then increases production to help bring the voltage to the nominal (single controllable parameter). Transformers can handle high frequency demand variations. For low frequency, it is done by the plants and with inter-network switches. Quebec is a major exporter of electricity. Excess is water that builds up in water reservoirs, dams or exported to neighbours.

An ex-physicist
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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2008, 08:59:08 PM »
Physics 101: energy is neither lost not gained, only transformed... Energy is always transformed into a state of greater entropy.
For us laymen, however, energy that ends up being transformed to heat simply because it's not used is "lost" :)
- carpe noctem

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2008, 06:40:43 AM »
I wish we room-temperature superconductors would be researched soon, as that's the only way we could realistically store power - as it is now (as previously mentioned), power companies try to generate a bit much power than the expected demand, and adapt to the current usage patterns. I wonder how much energy is being wasted daily worldwide. At least the power grid in .dk is stable, even when demands rise... I wonder how much that costs in extra wasted power? :)

Yep, I guess that was the basis of my question. All that "Reserve" power that is generated, to allow for the daily peaks, is surely wasted (unless stored somewhere, or used by other networks - but reading that very interesting article suggested that a power provider would never let "his" reserve be compromised below a certain limit)?

What this says to me is that we need lifestyle change, not penny pinching.

tomos

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2008, 06:46:01 AM »
What this says to me is that we need lifestyle change...

? how do you mean Perry ?
Tom

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Re: Where does the power go when I save it?
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2008, 06:57:17 AM »
I *think* the issue is that in order to "get" electricity we have to convert energy, which is costly - both in terms of financial outlay and in terms of environmental impact. I also *think* that the point of Earth Hour was/is to show how big a reduction in our energy needs we can make with simple acts such as turning off a light when we leave a room. The hope, then, is that people will start to do this of their own volition on a regular basis, thereby reducing electricity requirements overall and causing power companies to reduce output and to stop needing to build new hydro electric dams, coal burning electricity generating plants, etc.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin