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.

Related Articles


"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 November 26, 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 November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flying Enthusiast Converts Real-Life Aircraft Cockpit Into Simulator

Flying Enthusiast Converts Real-Life Aircraft Cockpit Into Simulator

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — A virtual flying enthusiast converts parts of a written-off Airbus aircraft into a working flight simulator in his northern Slovenian home. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Microsoft has robotic security guards working at its Silicon Valley Campus. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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