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One Worldwide Power Grid

CmdrTaco posted about 11 years ago | from the thinking-through-tat-one-again dept.

News 464

randomned writes "A little ironic that this article on a world wide power grid was published in the September issue of Wired. With the recent outage on in the northeast, think of what could've happened if the entire world was on one grid." As someone who spent 23 and a half hours without power, I'm thinking this is a brilliant plan!

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717012)

fp for lunix fagz.

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717034)

you sir, are a hellbound heretic.

Re:fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717069)

Blow me.

Re:fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717099)

I would but your penis is too small to actually fit my lips over it.

The Internet model (5, Interesting)

Empiric (675968) | about 11 years ago | (#6717015)

I'd imagine that the market forces in play here are a lot like the ones in play in the 80's for phone service. If given a monopoly, a company will fight to maintain exclusive control over its geographical domain, to the detriment of consumers.

The evolution of the internet is in stark contrast to this, where bandwidth can be bought from any one of many vendors (despite efforts of existing local telco's and cable providers to restrict the market by controlling the wiring).

The (U.S., at least) government needs to take the same steps as they took with AT open up the market for energy distribution. Let the market decide where and when it's economically feasible to lay new power lines, and this will grow much like WiFi is, starting in the most-demanded areas and spreading out from there. Along with this will come the kind of redundancies that the northeast U.S. and Canada should have had; with market forces in play a company is going to be very careful about making sure their customers don't lose power--the damage to a competing company's reputation from something like the recent blackout would be terrible for them to contemplate.

I'll look forward to the day I can have a box on the side of my house into which I can plug whatever sources of electricity I choose, and I expect that the costs of this commodity will then drop dramatically, much like telephone service did.

Re:The Internet model (-1, Flamebait)

SuperLiquidSex (233263) | about 11 years ago | (#6717061)

You sir are a moron.

Re:The Internet model (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 11 years ago | (#6717074)

Really? How so? I'd enjoy reading counterarguments.

Re:The Internet model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717083)

his/her name is SuperLiquidSex, what more counterargument do you want?

Re:The Internet model (5, Insightful)

jdhutchins (559010) | about 11 years ago | (#6717136)

Telephone companies basically still have a monopoly. But the bottom line is that there's only one twisted-pair wire going to your house. Someone has to maintain it. Other phone companies can sell phone service over the teleco's wires, but that hasn't caught on. If you have different companies trying to serve the same people in the same area, you're going to have mass confusion. The system wasn't set up to work that way, and getting it to work that way will take lots of money. The government has to do a decent job of regulating the monopolies.

Electricity is only slightly different. You only have one source of electricity going to your house. It would cost A LOT of money to run new wires to your house so you could use someone else's electricity. And no one wants two ugly wires in their backyard instead of one. It's not really worth it to set up a new grid, the money would be better spent upgrading the current one. And as far as blackouts go, things like that happen, but not very often. Let's see, their power was out for 24 (maybe a little more) hours. That's 24 hours out of roughly how many hours per year? It's good reliability, and I doubt you could really get much better. Weird things can happen, and the equipment is designed to shut off rather than risk getting fried. Sometimes things don't work quite the way they're supposed to, but it's not like they could test the stuff (oh, sorry about that last blackout, we were just testing stuff. It didn't really have to happen, but we needed to see what would happen if you got a real blackout.)

Re:The Internet model (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 11 years ago | (#6717188)

Yes, the RBOC's still have something of a monopoly, but given there's at least competition now in the long-distance space. I'd say MCI, Sprint, and all the 10-10 players would constitute "catching on".

But in the case of phone wiring or electrical wiring, I would argue that whether it gets deployed should depend on market forces, not because the local utility doesn't want it. I'd take the second set of wires if it meant my bill was going to be quite a bit lower.

Blackouts are rare, as you said, but a huge problem when they do occur. Redundant systems are just common-sense to implement nowadays, as the internet has shown. And for the testing issue, redundancy would allow exactly that testing that may be a problem now.

Re:The Internet model (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717166)

That's been in the works for a long time in many states, and it sounds great on paper. But deregulation in the power industry was a significant factor in the huge power crunch/pricing fiasco out in California. That in turn has dampened enthusiasm and slowed the pace of deregulation in other places.

Re:The Internet model (1)

grug0 (696014) | about 11 years ago | (#6717182)

I'll look forward to the day I can have a box on the side of my house into which I can plug whatever sources of electricity I choose.

Um..nobody's stopping you from doing this now.

Re:The Internet model (1)

Empiric (675968) | about 11 years ago | (#6717227)

Well... where I'm located, there's only one vendor, by regulation.

An oldie, but a damn fine goodie (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717223)

In A.D. 2001
Dubya was beginning

Davis: What happen?
SoCal Edison: Somebody set up us the blackout.

PG&E: We get bankruptcy.
Davis: What !

PG&E: Electricity turn off.
Davis: It's you !!

BC Hydro: How are you gentlemen !!
BC Hydro: All your power are belong to us.
BC Hydro: You are on the way to Stone Age.

Davis: What you say !!
BC Hydro: You have no chance to Chapter 11 make your payment.

PG&E: Governor !!

Davis: Take off every 'regulation' !!

Davis: You know what you doing.

Davis: Move 'regulation'.

Davis: For great darkness [pge.com] .

Re:The Internet model (5, Informative)

ZPO (465615) | about 11 years ago | (#6717238)

I don't think having a single "grid" covering a larger area is itself a problem. The problem arises when you don't have an appropriate set of safeguards in place to protect that grid from itself and an effective SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) network in place to monitor it all.

The technology is there to do it safely and reliably. It just costs money. Right now the major utilities have no profit motive to deploy technologies to harden and protect the power distribution and transmission systems.

In most states you can now sell power back to the utilities. A local generation plant (solar, hydro, wind, etc) can be connected to the power system via a utility intertie rated device.

This can as simple as a utility intertie rated inverter as part of you home solar system. Unfortunately for everyone else on your block, as soon as commercial input fails your system will stop providing power out to the utility side. This is to protect power company personnel during line repairs.

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717016)

Yes, and I got it manually, no bots!

- DT

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717053)

It seems you should have used bots.

no water, no power? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717020)

bad

oh yeah (1)

freedommatters (664657) | about 11 years ago | (#6717021)

read the bit about the only way there could be a failure is because of greed? and you expect us to link up with the usa? ha ha

Re:oh yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717165)

Maybe you could sell some more T-Shirts and bumper stickers about it if it happened, you greedy bastard!

Re:oh yeah (1)

freedommatters (664657) | about 11 years ago | (#6717214)

ooh, good idea (greed? wtf?)

For more information.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717028)

"click here to download infoporn graphics"

Uhmmmmm....

Re:For more information.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717189)

yeah. heh.

power up! and share through one grid!

the only question is who's exporting and who's importing?

Re:For more information.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717254)

I'm exporting to your mom. w00t!!

Such False Advertising (-1, Offtopic)

Ryan Stortz (598060) | about 11 years ago | (#6717030)

Click here to download infoporn graphics

Lies, all lies. It turns out to be a 1.6MB PDF.

Re:Such False Advertising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717060)

What's worse: "PDF download requires Adobe Acrobat Reader"...

1) to download a PDF file, one does NOT require Adobe Acrobat Reader
2) to view a PDF file, it is not REQUIRED to have/use Adobe Acrobat Reader

But then again, I'm just nitpicking...

Re:Such False Advertising (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717103)

HAND.

Office Space (1, Funny)

gooru (592512) | about 11 years ago | (#6717031)

"This is horrible, this idea." -- Office Space

Re:Office Space (1)

Mipsalawishus (674206) | about 11 years ago | (#6717255)

"Yea..see..I'm going to have to disagree with you on that..." "You did get the memo about those TPS reports, didn't you?"

Northeast? (5, Funny)

Vic (6867) | about 11 years ago | (#6717033)

From my perspective (Canadian) it's more accurate to say it was in the south-east. :)

Re:Northeast? (1)

greentree (682982) | about 11 years ago | (#6717057)

no, michigan is definitely not southeast for DTE's 2.1 million customers lost power.

Re:Northeast? (5, Funny)

Xzzy (111297) | about 11 years ago | (#6717059)

As a Canadian, you should have learned by age 2 that America is incapable of reporting on anything from other than it's own perspective. ;)

Re:Northeast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717110)

really? southeast is where? florida or someplace like that? florida was uneffected. look at a map you fucking idiot.

Re:Northeast? (5, Insightful)

Dannon (142147) | about 11 years ago | (#6717181)

I hear this complaint a lot about American news sources, that they are "incapable of reporting from non-American perspectives". But I would put it to you that no news source can honestly claim to report news from a perspective too far removed from that of the reporters.

For example, if I want to read a straight-up unadulterated Iraqi viewpoint of the war, or the outage, or anything, I'm not going to go to Fox News, I'm going to go to an Iraqi news source. British? I'll go to the BBC, or the Telegraph, or something like that. Canadian? Well, there's a-plenty of Canadian news sources on the web.

Likewise, if I want to read American perspectives on anything, I'm not going to be reading the BBC.

In fact, I'd propose that when a news source goes too far out of their way to show "the other side", they risk covering up important truths altogether. Look at how CNN deliberately squelched stories that might make the Hussein regime look bad, all to keep their "access" to Baghdad.

It is as it is. Reporting facts is one thing, reporting "perspectives" is another. It ain't an American thing, it's a human thing.

Re:Northeast? (1)

grug0 (696014) | about 11 years ago | (#6717194)

Likewise, if I want to read American perspectives on anything, I'm not going to be reading the BBC.

Personally, I think the best strategy is the opposite. The less involved and close to an issue a reporter is, the less likely they are to be influenced by bias.

Re:Northeast? (5, Funny)

freeweed (309734) | about 11 years ago | (#6717253)

if I want to read a straight-up unadulterated Iraqi viewpoint of the war, or the outage, or anything, I'm not going to go to Fox News, I'm going to go to an Iraqi news source.

Yeah, because we all know just how well informed the Iraqi Information Minister is. I'm still pretty sure the Americans haven't been into Baghdad yet.

Re:Northeast? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717247)


As a Canadian, you should have learned by age 2 that America is incapable of reporting on anything from other than it's own perspective. ;)


And you should have learned by age 12 that it's is short for it is and its is the possessive form.

"Click here to download infoporn graphics" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717035)

What am I supposed to make of that?

One Power Grid... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717037)

One Grid to rule them all,
One Grid to find them,
One Grid to bring them all,
And in the Darkness bind them...

Not a great idea (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717040)

The power outage would have never occured if the power distribution system was distributed and centralized. Though the idea of one power gird for the whole world sounds interesting, it would have many problem, political and technical which would make it very difficult to implement.

Re:Not a great idea (4, Insightful)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | about 11 years ago | (#6717100)

The power outage would have never occured if the power distribution system was distributed and centralized.

Uh, I think Distributed and NON-centralized is a better idea. Otherwise your just giving monopolies even more power to gouge consumers and make big mistakes. If it did go ahead. we should be able to use any supplier in the world, including ourselves. Like that's gonna happen.

Monopoly (1)

Luguber123 (203502) | about 11 years ago | (#6717043)

I guess there are people that have spent more than 24 hours of their lives without electricity. then again, when there is only one provider left, I guess most of the polar areas will be unpopulated once again.

Poor you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717044)

23 and a half hours without power? I had 24 hours without power and longer without water. Consider yourself LUCKY!

Re:Poor you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717064)

Try eleven days in the dead of winter

Re:Poor you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717120)

yikes. was it an ice storm? those are terrible.

I think this is very dangerous. (5, Insightful)

Krapangor (533950) | about 11 years ago | (#6717050)

A world wide power grid mean that the whole world is connected with one power grid.
However, we all know that there are conflicts between many countries of the world. The world wide power grid would be soon a strategic element in such conflicts. One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent and make a preventive strike against them. But such tatic move wouldn't only affect the conflict members but the whole world. So if Bush strikes Iraq, then France, Russia and China would be sitting in the dark.
I think I dodn't have to point out further how dangerous this would be.

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717088)

Bush strikes Iraq, then France, Russia and China would be sitting in the dark.
And you're saying this would be a bad thing?

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (3)

suwain_2 (260792) | about 11 years ago | (#6717130)

One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent....

Just short 'em together. It should make for a spectacular fireworks show. ;)

Realistically, though, I forsee this having advanced 'routing' and even 'firewalls' like the Internet. In other words, when Iraq suddenly starts using 10x the normal power, we simply say "Okay, we're going to cut back on how much power we 'share'"

It'd be more advanced than just wires run all over the place. I'd think you'd be able to say "Only share 10 megawatts" or whatnot.

It also gives us the ability to say "Iraq's been using too much power. We're about to go war with them." And get all the other providers to stop sharing power.

IMHO, this works perfectly if, and only if, it's just a means of sharing _excess_ power, but preserving (and steadfastly refusing to share) the power we need. When we have excess power being generated, we can share some. When we need a little more, we can borrow some. Like those "Take a penny, leave a penny" things. (Okay, strange example, I know.) Someone's not going to clean out your savings account by taking everything in the penny thing. All it does is helps others.

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (1)

mhesseltine (541806) | about 11 years ago | (#6717233)

Why is it that when I read this, the first thing that came to mind was Bittorrent [bitconjurer.org] ? Maybe we should get Brahm to work with the electric companies.

Correction: Sorry Bram (1)

mhesseltine (541806) | about 11 years ago | (#6717250)

s/Brahm/Bram

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about 11 years ago | (#6717239)

well, i don't know about usa, but most developed countries have such system and contracts already(ie. finland buys electricity from russia, and takes care that it wont f*** up finlands system if it gets interrupted). and the grid is monitored constantly and if theres sudden surges or too much power on lines they adjust routing accordingly(with reserve powers available for this sole purpose of easing up the load in case lines get overloaded).

now, taken all that into consideration i must say that i was amazed that such a blackout that happened now in the usa was possible in a country commonly considered to be pretty developed. well, what amazed me more was that they didn't know instantly exactly why it happened. hell, blackouts like that shouldn't be possible unless major parts(or the final landline) of the grid gets damaged by something external, like a storm or other disaster. going for profit doesn't necessarely mean that you should fu** reliability(as it can get get very expensive as seen), this is the kind of a situation that i would have expected to happen in mexico, peru, russia or some other country that simple didn't have the money to keep up with the demand and even they would have seen it coming(and limited power).

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (1)

grug0 (696014) | about 11 years ago | (#6717147)

Not to mention the fact that some unscrupulous countries may try to pass off low quality power as higher quality power and cheat their neighbours. Nowadays, a lot of private energy companies make a quick buck by using cheaper sawtooth wave power rather than the sine waves.

The RMS voltage is still the same but the sharp points of sawtooth waves can damage sensitive components. In fact sawtooth power can decrease the lifespan of electrical appliances.

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717161)

You know, if you're going to troll the comments you could at least learn how to speak English properly.

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (1)

CoreDump01 (558675) | about 11 years ago | (#6717187)

A world wide power grid mean that the whole world is connected with one power grid. Right, but the trans-border connections can be opened by pressing a button - on both sides of the border.# however, we all know that there are conflicts between many countries of the world. The world wide power grid would be soon a strategic element in such conflicts. One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent and make a preventive strike against them And what would stop the victim to open up its connection to the outside? Interesting thought though. How could one waste thousands of MegaWatts? I mean it's not like it'd be enough to short out some wires heh, how can one "evaporate" thousands of MegaWatts? The only way to do that would be to nuke the plants i'd say. So if Bush strikes Iraq, then France, Russia and China would be sitting in the dark. LOL may i remind you that france, russia and china have enough plants to supply their own needs? They'd cut the grid at the border, problem solved. I think I dodn't have to point out further how dangerous this would be. No you don't, because its nonsense. A worldwide grid would benefit everyone who is hooked up. Poor countries w/o stable powersupplies would benefit a *lot* (they'd still have to pay for the current). The big blackout in the USA wouldn't have happened since europe has enough overproduction of power which could have helped to solve the problem within *minutes* and not days... You Sir, apear the be a Troll

Re:I think this is very dangerous. (4, Funny)

los furtive (232491) | about 11 years ago | (#6717224)

A world wide power grid mean that the whole world is connected with one power grid.

Mensa member, beware of stating the obvious.

One country could e.g. try to suck all power out of the grid to black out an opponent and make a preventive strike against them.

No, that would be an offensive strike. There is no such thing as a preventative strike, only those who strike first.

I think I dodn't have to point out further how dangerous this would be.

You're right, you dodn't.

Mensa member, beware of the high IQ

Mensa member, beware of the grammar.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717051)

This won't happen until the Africans start needing electricity.

how does it work? (1)

Cowboy Bill (118730) | about 11 years ago | (#6717052)

Take a look <a href="http://people.howstuffworks.com/power.htm">h ere</a>. Meanwhile let me read it and get back to you guys.

Re:how does it work? (1)

NickFitz (5849) | about 11 years ago | (#6717135)

That should be here [howstuffworks.com] , methinks :-)

Paraphrasing "Split Second" (1)

McNihil (612243) | about 11 years ago | (#6717055)

I need UPS... big fscking UPS

Hey, Taco... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717056)


"As someone who spent 23 and a half hours without power..."

So many mains powered vibrators, so little power to run them...

Ohhh, Jooooonnnnn!!! Jon?!?! It's nudie leap-frog time!

Slashdot.org - Journalism at its very best.

a few thoughts... (4, Interesting)

SubtleNuance (184325) | about 11 years ago | (#6717066)

One solution is to have distributed, smaller, RENEWABLE sources of energy generation. Windmills and Solar installations go along way to making a neighbourhood, or small city 'black-out proof'; further, it provides an opportunity for community self-sufficiency and de-centralized administration of a communities' infrastructure.

instead of building 10 new natural gas power stations, we should build 1000 new small wind installations, distribute them around liberally to off-set the heavy reliance on out-of-reach massively-capital intensive projects.

The good would also be that this would cause NO POLLUTION.

Seeing how reliant we are on electricity in the West a couple things come to mind: A) Conservation, as always, is being overlooked by the pro-consume propaganda of western consumer-culture advocates. and B) The Re-regulation of the NorthAmerican Hydro infrastructure will only lead to a culture of capitalist finger-pointing, profiteering and irresponsibility. If the Hydro system is COMPLETELY privatized, who would get power first after a blackout? Residents who need it to live or Industrial/Commercial Interests who will write contracts to assure their production?

Re:a few thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717125)

Yeah, of course windmills and massive fields of solar panels are a danger to birds and other animals of all types. The environmentalist idiots pushed for a lot of windmill generators around here a few years ago and then whey birds of all sorts started flying into them and getting chopped up, they complained about that *too*.

Re:a few thoughts... (1)

kmak (692406) | about 11 years ago | (#6717137)

You mean like this [216.239.39.104] ?

It got to start from the government..

Re:a few thoughts... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717155)

Yes as we all well know SOLAR POWER works well in BLACKOUTS.

Re:a few thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717172)

The good would also be that this would cause NO POLLUTION.

I'm certainly not an expert at this, but wouldn't the building and maintenance of these windmills cause pretty much the same amount of pollution as the gas stations?

Re:a few thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717190)

Why would it be the same and not significantly more or less?

Re:a few thoughts... (1)

SpaceCadetTrav (641261) | about 11 years ago | (#6717196)

Solar and wind generation would definately help prevent power outages, as long as it's sunny and windy when we really need it. That sounds like a GREAT investment in reliability.

Re:a few thoughts... (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 11 years ago | (#6717221)

Why bother with wastefull wind generation plants (they waste space and generate noise) Fuel cells work can be powered easily off biomass (aka our waste) and with a unit in every house producing 5kw we would have a good deal of excess capacity while keeping generation local the unit sits on a pad outside and is the size of a refrigerator. Realy is you use a pump to compress the natural gas to a storage tank you have a decent backup supply.

For the more power consious attach a battery farm in the middle (ok the eco people dont like these to much but they are reliable) with a larger inverter it could handle larger short peak loads. You still have a power grid to share power from house to house again filling individual peaks (eletric ovens on clean eletric water heaters) Obvious those 50s all eletric houses would need bigger units (or to get a life and forget about eletric heating with the current trends away from nucular power)

No. (2, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | about 11 years ago | (#6717242)

Wind and Solar power would not solve this problem -- they would make it worse.

The entire reason we have a power grid is to improve reliability. When a power plant needs to be taken down for maintainance, power is brought in from somewhere else; without the grid, we'd have blackouts every time plants were shut down for maintainance.

Solar and wind power are far less reliable than fossil and nuclear power. As a result, using them would require a larger, more expensive, grid in order to maintain the same quality of service.

Having distributed generation might be a good idea, but it would need to be distributed *reliable* generation; wind and solar just don't make the grade.

Porr little you (4, Informative)

GnuVince (623231) | about 11 years ago | (#6717068)

As someone who spent 23 and a half hours without power, I'm thinking this is a brilliant plan!

Wow, this must've been a real ordeal. It's not like some people in Quebec missed electricity for a month during winter 5 years ago. I mean, not having power for a whole summer day must be so bad...

Re:Porr little you (1)

the uNF cola (657200) | about 11 years ago | (#6717201)

It's the net withdrawl speaking.

One worldwide power grid would help (1)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 11 years ago | (#6717070)

If it were implemented like the internet...

Ok, hold on... what I meant to say was, if it were implemented like the internet was supposed to be implemented. If the entire world was on one power grid, then a failure could be averted by pushing excess power to other locations, with multiple failsafe routes. Obviously the cause of the power failure was that transmission lines became over saturated, and generators could not pump their power anywhere (Electricity must be consumed the instant it's generated, unlike other commodities like gas and water). So if we had a better connected system, the generators could stay up, and just reroute their power to other locations while simultaneously having the other plants reduce output slightly, thus keeping the grid powered while a small section of transmission lines would have gone down.

Instead, we had a few lines go down, and because of the lack of proper interconnectivity in the power grid, and the fact that demand for the power the generators were generating disappeared (due to lack of transmission paths), they had to shut them down, thus cascading.

The fault that the 'experts' will eventually find is that the system cascaded because of lack of alternate transmission lines. So a global power grid, interconnected properly would never have a mass blackout happen.

greed (5, Funny)

L0rax23 (264813) | about 11 years ago | (#6717076)

Once the grid is fully functional, the only excuse for power shortages will be greed.

Good thing we don't hafta worry about greed!

Power Grid will be obsolete (4, Interesting)

Baron_Yam (643147) | about 11 years ago | (#6717078)

Why move electrons across a grid and have to worry about cascade failures, power station accidents, etc?

The day will come, maybe in just a few decades, when every building has its own fuel cell, connected to a low-pressure hydrogen line.

Yes, you'll still need to generate the hydrogen - but show me how you can get a cascade failure with that! Also, it's dramatically easier to generate your own small amount of hydrogen to bolster your commercially supplied hydrogen than to generate and store energy in batteries.

Simple. (1)

nlinecomputers (602059) | about 11 years ago | (#6717140)

Yes, you'll still need to generate the hydrogen - but show me how you can get a cascade failure with that!

Simple. One nitwit that can't read a sign. One backhoe.

Re:Simple. (1)

SpaceCadetTrav (641261) | about 11 years ago | (#6717211)

I'd liked to see you affect the entire east coast's natural gas connection with a single backhoe.

Re:Power Grid will be obsolete (1)

cethiesus (164785) | about 11 years ago | (#6717159)

There was a time in the 1950's or so when many people foresaw small nuclear power generators in every home. Now, hydrogen doesn't have nearly as many hazardous issues to deal with (that we know of) as nuclear power or even other current forms of energy, but household-based powerplants still seem a bit unlikely.

Re:Power Grid will be obsolete (1)

cperciva (102828) | about 11 years ago | (#6717203)

Now, hydrogen doesn't have nearly as many hazardous issues to deal with (that we know of) as nuclear power

The dangers of nuclear power are overrated. I'd much rather have a Plutonium RTG in my basement than a hydrogen fuel cell (and associated fuel lines).

What you say!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717184)

...you would set up us the bomb!!!

23 hours is nothing! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717086)

As someone who spent 23 and a half hours without power, I'm thinking this is a brilliant plan!

I'll see your 23 hours and raise it to 41 hours. Yes folks, I got power back at 9:00am (EDT) Saturday, so all you less-than-twenty-four-hours-people can take your weak assed rhymes elsewhere. Funk dat.

More good than bad. (2, Insightful)

Nakoruru (199332) | about 11 years ago | (#6717089)

It is very likely that the interconnected power grid has prevented far more blackouts than it has caused. The interconnected power grid allows for local failures to be mitigated by non-local resources being brought instantly into play.

The blackout is far more likely the result of aging and inadequate infrastructure in the Northeast, and not the interconnected nature of the grid.

Should Be Okay (2, Interesting)

suwain_2 (260792) | about 11 years ago | (#6717094)

IMHO, if things were designed properly, all the power grids would be linked, but would be 'selfish' -- that is, if they started to reach their maximum load, they'd cut off surrounding areas. Kind of a "You can borrow some power from us, but only what we don't need."

I think it's no different than the Internet -- the big backbone providers 'peer' with each other, giving each other transit. But that doesn't mean that big DDoS attack aimed at one provider will cripple the whole Internet.

Interconnected power-grid not a bad idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717096)

The problem is doing it correctly. Obviously NYC, Detroit, and a few other areas did not do it well. The grid in Massachusetts did what it was supposed to do.. Instead of feeding power everywhere else, overloading and shutting down, it set a limit and stopped where it should have, leaving some residents in Western MA without power, but overall did not fail like the flawed power systems in NY and elsewhere.

Tesla suggested this *long* before Fuller (4, Insightful)

mkweise (629582) | about 11 years ago | (#6717097)

Nikola [wikipedia.org] Tesla [pbs.org] suggested a *wireless* worldwide power grid around (IIRC) 50 years earlier, and demonstrated the technology to make it posssible [t0.or.at] .

Re:Tesla suggested this *long* before Fuller (2, Informative)

mkweise (629582) | about 11 years ago | (#6717151)

Here's another link [jnaudin.free.fr] to info on Tesla's wirless power transmission technology, and a gooogle search [google.com] .

ianaee (1)

lazelank (454849) | about 11 years ago | (#6717108)

that is to say i'm no electrical engineer, but i wonder how much good this would do? unless scientists come up with a practical, maleable, room temperature superconductor, aren't we limited to how far we can transfer power (ala electricity). any thoughts on this?

Re:ianaee (1)

dJCL (183345) | about 11 years ago | (#6717179)

Superconductors would only really be needed if you wanted to get the power directly from the generator in africa to new york city...

In the global power grid it would operate more like(simplified): there is a power deficit in new york, it pulls in power from the west of north america, creating a deficit there, which will then pull extra power from (say there is an interconnect to) eastern russia, they will then pull power from central russia, and they from the middle east, and they will pull some from africa and everyone will hopefully have some juice when it is all said and done...

Basically, the power from africa is still relativly close to there, and other power is really dealing with the problem...

At least that is how I understand it... IAMAEE but I'm playing one today on slashdot...

For everyone comparing outage length... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717117)

During the big ice storm in the Kansas City area a year and a half ago, I went 8 days without electricity - some people went up to two weeks. All food was ruined (despite the fact that my apartment was freezing cold), my fireplace wasn't working, my car was hardly working and the only internet access I had was the access at work which I can only use to get here and our corporate websites. Sure, a lot of folks in the area had their power back in two days, but the average outage time was 4-5... so, nyeah.

23 hours? Try 5-10 days... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717126)

Severe storms hit Memphis [google.com] around 7AM on July 22. Hurricane force winds slammed the whole city, knocked over thousands of trees and power lines, damaged hundreds of homes/buildings, and immediately killed the power to 300,000+ buildings. Speaking of killed, I think the death toll wound up being 7, people died in fires started by candles, people died by carbon monoxide poisoning from generators, and one poor guy was crushed by a falling tree.

And nobody cared. Friends and relatives in other areas didn't see it on the news and call to see if we were okay. We had to call them, because it wasn't on the news anywhere else. I was lucky enough to have a good friend in a part of town with power, and went to his place by the afternoon, we were sitting watching all the news stations. The only place we saw any reference to it was the tiny ticker at the bottom of CNN Headline News, one blurb about "Thousands without power after storm slams Memphis." I think the only reason CNN bothered is that they're based in Atlanta (in the south) instead of NYC.

300,000 homes and businesses (more than half a million people in all) were without power for days. Most of us didn't see our lights come back on for 4-5 days. And it took more than 10 days to get everyone turned back on. But nobody noticed.

If NYC loses power, it's an instant media blitz, with all the networks scrambling to make new imposing music themes and clip-art for "Massive Outage: Are Terrorists Responsible?" And now, days later, it's still the top headline everywhere. But when half a million Memphians lost power for a week, no one cared. I guarantee if Fedex had lost power they would have cared..

Re:23 hours? Try 5-10 days... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717174)

It's not where it happened you idiot, it's the fact that 50 million people were without power. Ooh, "thousands without power." Wow, call fucking Geraldo for christ's sakes. It's not where, you fucking spic, it's the magnitude. In this case, millions upon millions of people were affected, rather than a couple dozen people and about a thousand other hicks.

well its a good idea! (1, Insightful)

acegik (698112) | about 11 years ago | (#6717133)

A bug in the design of the current grid shouldnt stop progress. If we design a power grid that many countries can share, that will save a whole lot of money and will be much more efficient. Of course we shouldnt hire those who design US power grid :) thats the lesson from the power failer ;)

Ironing (1)

mojowantshappy (605815) | about 11 years ago | (#6717134)

It isn't ironic. Damnit.

Re:Ironing (0)

m1chael (636773) | about 11 years ago | (#6717160)

is it ironic because its falsely claimed as ironic when its not really ironic? or is it just unfortunate? you outta know...

If the black out was in India or China.... (1)

raj2569 (211951) | about 11 years ago | (#6717145)

I wonder what would have been the reaction of slashdotters....

btw, we do have power failures here (Trivandrum, India), but I do not think we ever had a black out of some thing like 24 hours...

raj

BAD idea.... (4, Interesting)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | about 11 years ago | (#6717162)

When I was a teen in the 70's I went to visit some people that live in the desert of New Mexico.
The dude and his wife were typical peacenic, hippy types, long hair, shaggy beard, robes and beads and, *a college professor*.

Anyway, this couple dug a hole in the desert and built a log cabin in the hole. They then covered the cabin back over with the dirt from the hole so that from outside the place looked like a big dirt pile with windows.

You walked down a flight of steps from ground level to the enterance, 12' below ground level.

They had burlap on string for internal doorways.
Everything ran on low power battery lamps that they charged from solar panels on a big tower outside. They also had a huge hot water tank buried undergound that kept near boiling hot water year round. There was a HUGE hottub that would seat about 15 people lined with turquiose tiles they collected themselves from the desert.

Everything in there was handmade from logs, there was no store made furniture, just adobe and logs. The fireplace was about 3 feet thick and it was bloody hot even 20 feet away.

I was in awe of the place, it was mega cool and I decided then that I wanted to live like that too. Ever since then I've been a strong advocate of non-polluting, renewable energy sources. I would love to see the world powered by solar and geo-thermal power.
MOST of the methods in use today have horrific enviromental impact.

Even wind mills have serious drawbacks. There is a place where they landscape is littered with the damn things, they are huge, ugly behemoths and they make a veyr low rumbling sound that the residents are saying is causing them ill effects. Most things that man produces cause someone or something serious problems.

Imagine the world on solar power. Silent cars. No pollution. A clean sky to look at, clean air to breath. Quiet to enjoy, not noisy cars and trucks roaring around and stinking the place up, spreading more of the agents that cause cancer and other horrible diseases.

And last but not least, when the people can generate their own power for free then there would be no need for parasitic energy companies like Con-Ed, Entergy, etc...

The world is a parasitic circle jerk system, everyone screws the next little guy down the ladder and those at the bottom of the ladder are slaves for those above them. Those at the top are the oppressors and the tyrants.

total blackout's now possible? (2, Funny)

wardk (3037) | about 11 years ago | (#6717171)

not so sure I want my grid connected to this new york grid. at least right now I just get to read about the blackout, not participate. ;-)

Serious conceptual muddle... (4, Informative)

listen (20464) | about 11 years ago | (#6717178)

Disclaimer: I work in the power trading business.

This article has a few oddities. The idea that everyone will be connected to "one" grid is misleading. There will always be multiple grids, and interconnectors between them. This can be thought of similarly to ISPs peering arrangements.

The article is really saying that it may be economically feasible to have extremely long interconnectors, eg across Siberia, the Atlantic, the Pacific, or up the length of Africa.

I have some reservations with this. When power is transmitted, there is a loss through the resistance of the transmission lines. This clearly becomes more acute the longer the transmission. In most grids in europe, the costs of these losses ( and the requirement to cover them with reserve power) is built into the fees to become a trading company within those countries. There are exceptions -eg the UK -> France interconnector - there is ~ 1.5% loss which the trading party must bear. This is for a 26 mile link. So 3000 miles might be a bit hopeful... I can't be arsed to do the math, but...

It is very hard to see how exploiting the varying liquidity of these markets would offset the huge transmission losses. Especially when compared to the ability to ship huge amounts of oil and gas in pipelines and tankers, with little loss, even at the expense of flexibility.

If this is about some new technology for power transmission ( eg superconductors) this could be great.

Australia could do pretty damn well by covering WA with solar. This could be transmitted to China, converting the Three Gorges Dam - an ecological crime, but its there, I've seen it ;-( - into partially stored hydro... could be interesting.

France is #3 exporter of electricity ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6717235)

US is #1 importer?

We either better be nice to France or invade 'em.

Fishy. (0)

ulwen (472871) | about 11 years ago | (#6717236)

"Click here to download infoporn graphics"

I guess slashdots spamfilter didn't get this one. ;P

Reminds me of something (1)

niom (638987) | about 11 years ago | (#6717245)

This proposal reminds me of Asimov's short story Sha Guido G [mac.com] in which the main character "saves humanity from oppression by overtaxing the generators of the flying capital city, crashing it to the ground and killing everyone on board".

Seriously, it looks like the incentives to a potential terrorist of a successful attack on a worldwide power grid would be tremendous, so the security should be the very first priority. Which never is, of course.

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