Smarter Electrical Distribution
The other day I came across an article in Technology Review on the development of a smart transformer. A professor at North Carolina State University is developing a transistor based transformer capable of coping with both dc and ac and of directing power to where it is required. His idea is to shuffle power around the grid in the same way that the internet intelligently moves data around.
The interesting thing from this is that people are starting to address the way we move power around. There is a lot of talk about renewable energy such as solar and wind, but less talk in utilizing this on a large scale. One of the problems with renewable generation is that it is not continuous; you need the sun to be out for solar power to work. Contrast this with our consumption habits of wanting power available on demand twenty four hours a day. As reliance on renewable energy continues to increase this mismatch between generation and demand is going to get worse.
While the smart transformer may or may not be a component in future smarter distribution systems it is obvious that how we utilize power will need to change.