The way that we consume and generate electricity has changed enormously since the era when electricity grids were first developed. The grids haven’t always kept pace. Scientific American recently reported how researchers at Boston University are developing software that will let renewable energy flow into and out of a decentralised power grid.
The research team, led by Pablo Ruiz, has written algorithms that analyse power flows on the transmission grid and identify less-congested routes. Scientific American likens the method to ‘the way a car navigation program will propose back roads if there’s heavy traffic on the main highway’.
Armed with this information, grid operators can redirect power and make the most cost-effective energy source available. Ruiz estimates the project’s Topology Control Algorithms software could save around EUR 73 million a year in congestion-related costs and reduce wind curtailments by roughly 50 percent.
Meanwhile, scientists in Japan have dreamt a plan to secure the earth’s energy supply. Iflscience.com reports that researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are exploring the possibility of developing a giant solar farm in space. The floating power plant could gather the sun’s energy with virtually no constraints from the weather, seasons or time of day, delivering a constant supply of green energy to Earth.
According to iflscience.com, the proposed model, consisting of floating solar panels, would be several miles long and weigh 10 000 metric tons. The panels would be tied to a station on the ground in order to keep the satellite at a fixed point in geostationary orbit.
Researchers are currently exploring how we could get all of that precious sun energy back to Earth. At the moment, they believe that we could convert the solar energy into either laser beams or microwaves, or perhaps even a combination of both, which would then be transmitted to a receiving facility situated on Earth.
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