Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Heat Wave Taking Toll On U.S. Power System

Date:
July 28, 1999
Source:
University Of Missouri, Rolla
Summary:
The current heat wave throughout the continental United States is straining the nation's aging power system, says Dr. Mariesa Crow, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla.

ROLLA, Mo. -- The current heat wave throughout the continental United States is straining the nation's aging power system, says Dr. Mariesa Crow, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla.

"The more uncomfortable it becomes with all the heat and humidity, the more people run their air conditioners," says Crow, an associate professor in UMR's Power Engineering program. "The more the air conditioners run, the more strain is put on our power transmission system."

With temperatures in the 90s throughout much of the nation for the past several days, "it's gotten to the point where air conditioners are running all of the time," says Crow, who conducts research to model and predict the behavior of large and complex power systems. Through funding from the National Science Foundation, Crow is looking into the causes of "voltage collapse" -- a sudden drop in power with little or no warning.

The problem many utility companies are currently facing is not due to a lack of power to run those air-conditioning units, but problems with the distribution of power, Crow says.

"The problem we have is trying to ship power from one place to another over long distances," she says. Because most major power plants are located in remote areas away from large cities, electricity must travel over miles of transmission lines that also are subject to stress during the hot summer.

As the metal transmission lines heat up -- a result not only of the rising temperatures, but also of the electrical power they are carrying -- they expand and sag. For safety reasons, transmission lines can sag only so far. A breezy day can carry away some of the heat and reduce expansion and sagging, Crow says. "But now that it's hot and still, this is one of the worst conditions for transmission lines that we have," she says.

Adding to the transmission problems is the fact that much of the U.S. power infrastructure was built in the years immediately following World War II. The nation's economic growth since then has simply "outstripped the growth of the power system," Crow says.

Yet another problem has to do with the buying and selling of power. In the summer, utility companies in the United States often purchase surplus power from Canada. When the heat wave expands into Canada, however, Canadian companies cut off that supply, Crow says.

Utility companies are trying to alleviate some of the stresses on the power transmission system by building smaller "peak units" nearer to population centers to generate power during these critical times. "That brings the power closer to the people who use it," Crow says, but it costs more to produce electricity with these natural gas- or oil-fired units than with the main power plants.

Another alternative in cities involves planned "rotating blackouts" -- shutting down power in certain sections of a city to relieve some of the stress of demand. "Rather than having the whole system come crashing down around you, only a part of the system is down at one time, and that alleviates some of the stress on the system as a whole," Crow says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Missouri, Rolla. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Missouri, Rolla. "Heat Wave Taking Toll On U.S. Power System." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990728074239.htm>.
University Of Missouri, Rolla. (1999, July 28). Heat Wave Taking Toll On U.S. Power System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990728074239.htm
University Of Missouri, Rolla. "Heat Wave Taking Toll On U.S. Power System." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/07/990728074239.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) — British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) — Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:  

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile iPhone Android Web
      Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins