Texas ERCOT power shortages (again) April 13

Mark Tinka mark at tinka.africa
Wed Apr 14 15:32:25 UTC 2021


On 4/14/21 17:12, Patrick W. Gilmore wrote:

> Bringing it back to the topic on hand: How do we keep the grid up? Or 
> plan for it not being up?

I think "planning for the grid not being up" is more within our control 
than the former :-).

Data centres serving base power load from solar PV, for example, can be 
one place to start if they have the land (or rooftop space), in 
economies where they are not only allowed to do grid feed-in, but are 
also able to draw those credits from the grid in the evenings and/or on 
cloud days. Of course, if the grid allows this but is unreliable, then 
this doesn't work very well. But if it does, low-hanging fruit.

I think data centres are already good at performing demand side 
management with how they use energy, given that they are now classified 
by how much electrical energy that they can deliver vs. how much space 
they have to sell. So while these activities help alleviate pressure on 
the national grid, they probably have a more meaningful impact that 
gives the data centre the opportunity to operate its own mini grid that 
would survive a national grid outage, while minimizing its carbon 
footprint. But this requires even more deliberate, multi-faceted 
initiatives from the data centre operator, which costs money.

National grid prices are only going in one direction, the world over. 
Couple that with an expected reduction in generation capacity (reliable 
or otherwise) due to the rising levels of electrification, one would not 
be entirely off-base if they approached the problem from a "How do we 
stay up, regardless of the grid's condition" vs. "How do we go green", 
because I believe the answer to both those questions innately calls for 
renewable generation, operated at a very small scale to the rest of the 
nation.

Think about this: there are more mobile phones in Africa than there are 
people with electricity. At its most basic, those phones need to be 
charged. The same can be said for most of the developing world. Care to 
imagine what shambles the power companies will be in when those people 
finally get on to the grid? It's not like they don't need their 
Facebook, Google or Instagram :-)...

Mark.


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