Sunday, August 24, 2003

How electricity works in the US

I think there is going to be a bunch of information on this. I'm going to keep it short and sweet.
    National Transmission Grid Study - a DOE sponsored study completed in May, Section 1 reviews the current structure and looks to the future.

    Here is a page with background on electricity in Canada.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

How electricy works in the UK

Another project. I need to figure out how electricity is moved about in the UK. The Grid. Something that the US has come to understand a little bit better recently.

The Department of Trade and Industry have an energy group that oversee electricy and management. I have not found much that could be used in the classroom on their site but I did find this interesting FAQ (I think the ending demonstrates a bluntness that you just don't see in the US):
    "3. I have seen signs on electricity substations saying "danger" or "danger of death". Isn't this just an exaggeration to keep people out?
    No, not at all. The signs are there to stop you being killed. Substations contain high voltage equipment of up to 400,000 volts. Even much lower voltages can jump through the air and reach you. If you are unfortunate enough to come into contact with high voltage electricity the result will always be terrible and tragic. If you are not killed outright, you will probably be badly burned and scarred for life."
Ahh, I wrote off dti too soon.

Here is information about network access to the electricity grid. It sounds like what they define as "embedded" generators are distributed generators in the US.

Some of those documents led me to the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (ofgem). They have all the grid information one could possibly need. Here are some of the facts:
  • There are 14 Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) in Britain. Two are in Scotland. The 14 DNOs are owned by 8 companies.

  • Ofgem is currently reviewing DNOs in response to the growing amount of distributed (or embedded) generation. They are trying to find ways to maintain reliability, security, and the environment during the movement to DG.

  • The Network Information page contains links to a ton of information about each DNOs. The information is provided in long term development statements written by each of the DNOs (as required by ofgem).
Here are some more sites:
    Electricity Association - looks like it has a good overview description of the electricity situation. I think the Industry Overview section is exactly what I want.

    The UK FAQ from National Grid.

I think I am reaching the end of this little project.

British press on US air pollution

The Guardian picked up the weakening of the Clean Air Act story. The title of the article, Bush's pollution charter, sort of gives away their take on things.

It is interesting that they connect the weakening of the clean air standards in the US to undermining "attempts to persuade other countries to stick to the targets laid out by Kyoto." I had never heard that take on it before.

Friday, August 22, 2003

Shedding Light on Energy Policy

A friend just sent me a link to McKinsey Quarterly's Special Collection - I don't know anything about it but it looks like it will be worth reading. It requires free registration.

Mixing urban redesign and energy politics

Daniel Gross has an interesting article on Slate (posted yesterday), Degenerating Situation - Why blackouts and gas shortages are very modern inventions. At the begining, it follows on theme of the Slate Chatterbox piece of last week that knocked Bill Richardson by saying it was, indeed, a first-world blackout and not a "third-world electrical grid" blackout. The Gross piece says that the blackout problem is a 21st century problem and not a 20th century problem.

OK, maybe it is a stretch comparing those two articles but the first brought to mind the second and I hadn't posted the second. I like the Gross article because it brings in the complexity of the energy problem. We want cheap, reliable fuel and electricity to run our increasing number of appliances and larger automobiles but we don't want the air pollution or the industrial development that is required to keep them cheap and reliable.

In a way it is an environmental victory that people will not accept power plants and power lines in their backyard. People understand that pollution lowers their quality of life. People understand that they don't want to live under a power line or dine next to a power plant.

But I see it as a problem that people do not seem to connect their choices to the environmental impacts. If we want 3AM in Times Square to be lit up like it is the middle of the day, we need to burn more of something somewhere. As I see it, we can keep on fighting having the generation capacity or the pipelines or the powerlines in our backyards and have more blackouts or we can start connecting consumption with power and make difficult decisions about how much we value our goods over pollution.

Air Rules

Today's New York Times has an article about the new air rule that just might be released by EPA. The article mentions that one of the motivations behind pushing it through now is so Gov. Leavitt, the nominee for EPA administrator, would not have to make the decision. I think cleaning the air out west is something Leavitt touts as one of his strong points.

The NRDC is quoted in the article as the source. It is worth browsing the NRDC Air Pollution page for more on their take on the issue. For the government side, check out the EPA's New Source Review page.

Note that it all goes back to the National Energy Policy Report, led by VP Cheney.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

More on South America

I need to find out some more things about South America. I'm using Brazil as a source of data for a fictional project involving oil exploration in South America. I'm not at particular fan of oil drilling in South America and I have learned quite a bit about the troubles that arise from oil drilling in South America (eg Ecuador's oil pollution fears). Oil seems to cause problems just about everywhere. And that is an incredible understatement.

Anyway, I've given away too much about my task already, let me throw a few more sites at you...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Maps of oil fields

I am looking up maps of South America right now - well, maps of South America and maps of oil fields in South America. I'm going to put them here so that they are easier to reference in the future. Fun stuff.
    Online Map Creation is a site that lets you make your own map - of course you have to know the coordinates first but that is a trival matter - right?

    USGS Maps showing Geology, Oil, and Gas Fields in South America - a good looking site with way more detail than I need. Especially good is the map you can download in the middle of the page.

    USGS Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources in Central and South America.

    When I get back to homebase and near ArcView, I can download everything I need to make the map from here.

    More GIS data.

    USGS South American land cover data.

    The USGS has sites all over the place. There needs to be some kind of reorg of the USGS - they have mounds of information but it takes hours to sift through to get what you really want. I am positive that someone has made the kind of map I want - I just haven't found it yet. Oh, I started this mini-rant because I found another USGS site with good information, CMG InfoBank Atlas: Brazil region.

    List of sites that maintain biological data for Brazil. Some of them do not work.

I think that is about all the map searching I can do today.

Carbon Capture and Storage in Great Britain

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in the UK has a site set up with information about their review of carbon capture and storage potential in the UK.

Changing sizes

In the meantime, that power outtage in the US got some interesting coverage over here in the UK. The coverage led me to believe that the media spend a little bit too much time in New York City. Maybe that is why flash mobs and trucker hats become news stories.

Here are two of the most interesting sites I found in the days that followed the power failure:

    The Blackout History Project (from TPM) and

    Current Energy Report (from Slate)