This week Alex Brissette will be filling in with a mildly technical talk on the fundamentals of the electric grid — how it is designed, and why works the way it does. It should provide a solid background for understanding some of the challenges related to new technologies, such as rooftop solar and electric vehicles.
This talk will be centered on the technical side of how the grid works, such as why AC instead of DC, transmission vs. distribution, the basics of power electronics, and how power and frequency relate to system stability.
This week we will be talking about energy efficiency. Its one of the cheapest ways of reducing energy use, but also highly underdeveloped. We will talk about why and what can be done to increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses. See you there!
This week we are going to be discussing Tesla Motors. The hot new car company is pioneering fully electric cars; its model S is all the rage these days and in the last year its stock price has been soaring. Last year 2 small fires in Model S cars caused a large dip in the company’s stock, but not for long.
Tesla’s corporate strategy was first to release the Tesla Roadster, a zippy sports car, which from 2008-2011 sold 2,250 units for a list price of just over $100,000USD. The second phase was to produce a luxury sedan, the Tesla Model S for about half that, followed by a crossover family car, the Model X, and finally a revolutionary cost competitive Camry killer Model E, slated for 2016. Slowly, Tesla is poaching customers from other companies and keeping them hooked. In 2014, Tesla plans to sell 40,000 vehicles worldwide, a number which is projected to continue growing as economies of scale kick in and consumers become more receptive to the idea of driving an electric vehicle.
Its an amazing time in the car industry, a revolutionary shift towards electric vehicles, and a promising new way to move away from fossil fuel transportation. Hope to see everyone there!
The reliability of the electric power grid is very important to the economy, national security, and our way of life. The reliability and resiliency of the grid is being discussed more in the national news lately because of a sniper attack on a California substation
. There has been increased talk of using microgrids
to increase the robustness and resiliency of the grid by having many layers of autonomous power networks that can operate independently of the rest of the transmission and distribution network.
Providing reliable electricity is more than just protecting the grid against physical attacks, but also requires the real-time balancing of energy generation and load (usage), which introduces challenges when incorporating more variable generation renewable energy
. If the balance between generation and load is not carefully matched, we can have blackouts, such as in New York on 2003 (simulation
, and news report
), and in San Diego in 2011 (simulation
As always, free Half Fast Subs
See you there!
This week we will take a look at the future of nuclear power in the world. Recently, Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan has talked about starting up Japan’s fleet of nuclear plants in anticipation of the upcoming summer months which bring high electricity demand. In the 3 years since the incident, Japan has moved toward heavy reliance on oil and natural gas to meet its energy demands, but these are costly since Japan relies heavily on imports. After the incident, Germany made plans to become nuclear free by 2021 citing safety concerns. Then of course is the USA which still gets 20% of its electricity from nuclear, but will we build more? Will we take down our old plants. Should we? Nuclear power has always been a contentious issue, and this week we will have a discussion on where the world is going and where it should go next. Hope to see you all there.
This week we will be looking into the future a little bit. Much has changed in the last century but much more will change in the century to come. The population of the world has passed 7bn and will peak at about 11bn by 2100. This change is more than just a number; a larger portion of these people will be educated and living in the middle class. Of course, there is the doomsday account of how they will consume more energy and resources, but also the optimistic view that billions of additional educated people will have a better chance of inventing technologies that will define the future. Hope you all can make it.
I feel like we havent talked about hydro power in about 3 years but there is definitely some interesting development happening around the world. The US, long the leader in hydro power, has not built much recently (though there is some resurgence in small hydro) while the Chinese have become modern aficionados. Now, the Chinese are exporting their expertise around the world, looking specifically at Africa. Then there is Brazil which gets nearly 80% of its electricity from hydro power. Should be a fun topic to discuss, if not only because we will get to watch beautiful videos from around the world. See you there!
Next Week: Development of the “next” energy technology
Future: Batteries, both for cars and for the grid
Great discussion last week! This week we are going to branch out a bit and take a look at the geopolitics of energy in Europe. Specifically Eastern Europe. Things are especially tense right now in Ukraine, partly because of energy policies, and since it is in the news, we will focus specifically on Russia and how its supply of oil and gas influences Europe and the world. Fascinating stuff. See ya there!
This week we will take a look at clean tech in America. There has always been a lot of debate swirling around the clean tech industry and whether the government should financially subsidize the industry, but with the recent boon of shale gas and oil and the failures of high profile ventures like Fisker and Solyndra, the debate has intensified. We will watch some key videos and bring the debate to our lunch session.
Next week: geopolitics of European energy (its gonna be sweet)
As usual, sorry it took a while to get a room reservation but the spring schedule is listed and we are good to go from here until May. This week we are going to be talking about the transportation of oil. We have talked about the Keystone XL pipeline before, but last week a government report was issued which essentially paves the way for its approval. In light of this report, we will talk about the alternatives to pipelines such as transportation by rail, a method which has led to an increase in derailments and disasters in North America in the last year. Hope you all can make it!