The Five-Year Plan is the expression of the centralized planning goals for China’s economy. The 12th Five-Year Plan, approved by the Chinese Government on March 14, 2011, established many social and economic goals, including significant expansion of the country’s power generation industry in many new directions.
The technologies used to generate and distribute electricity will be radically transformed during the coming decade. Amid that change, the power industry must continue to meet customer reliability, safety, and cost-of-service expectations. Achieving the right balance among these often-conflicting goals is the primary focus of every utility. The Electric Power Research Institute is helping utilities achieve that balance with R&D programs for many new and emerging technologies.
At home and abroad, U.S. military microgrid and smart grid projects are driven by energy security concerns. The pace of such projects, however, can be slow, and the potential for civilian grids to benefit from lessons learned and technologies developed for these important installations may be limited.
For power providers, grid stabilization has been a rising concern in recent years, especially because of the increasing use of intermittent energy sources such as wind turbines. Maintaining a stable electricity grid is difficult because of the unpredictability of intermittent energy sources. If wind turbines, for example, are supplying 5% of the overall power for the grid and the turbines stop moving because the air grows still, the grid has to find a way to kick into overdrive to compensate for this sudden decrease in energy. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
In the past few years, nuclear concerns, rising oil prices, and a growing understanding of our environmental impact has given energy issues a higher profile worldwide. In this report on the Continental Nordic countries, we look at the efforts being made in much of the Nordic region to secure a sustainable energy supply for the future and at the extent to which the innovative solutions of these countries can be exported around the globe.
What’s on the agenda for the utility industry today and into the future? Platts and Capgemini asked the industry leadership in their latest survey. The answers revolve around regulation, finance, and human resources.
Energy storage developments got a boost as Beacon Power Corp. in June announced that its first flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, N.Y., achieved its full 20-MW capacity, and AES Energy Storage said its Los Andes battery storage system in Chile had performed continuously for more than 18 months as a critical reserve unit for the nation’s northern grid.
A number of automotive manufacturers, electric utilities, electric power associations, and research groups are working to develop and evaluate technical approaches to integrating plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) into the U.S. electrical grid system. This is a key requirement of facilitating widespread, near-term adoption of PEVs by the American public.
A cooperative in northern Vermont serving a largely rural area has proven that even small utilities can achieve great smart grid results by planning wisely. For improving service to its members by developing a grid modernization strategy before “smart grid” was a buzz phrase, Vermont Electric Cooperative is the winner of the first POWER Smart Grid Award.
David K. Owens, executive vice president, Business Operations Group for the Edison Electric Institute, comments on the progress U.S. utilities are making toward a smarter electrical power grid.