Things That Might Surprise You about Power

by | Jun 13, 2016 | Industry, Power Generation | 0 comments

Author: Douglas Morris

Most often I write about a current issue concerning the industry or about how an operational problem might be addressed in a plant. I thought I’d take a different tack and highlight some interesting articles where you might learn something interesting or new (or you might just shake your head).

On Animals…

Imagine a situation where an animal could take down an entire country’s power grid…implausible, right? In Kenya, a curious monkey did just that. From the article “When a monkey fell on a transformer at a Kenyan hydroelectric dam, the entire nation lost its electrical power”. (Washington Post)

I was at a high school graduation party and got into a discussion about the intersection of wind turbines and birds of prey. If you didn’t know, birds of prey tend to look down when they are flying which can be dangerous around spinning turbines. There is an interesting research project going on between the National Renewable Energy Labs and Auburn University to minimize damage to the bird population by wind energy. (Gizmodo)

On Technology…

There is no shortage of very smart people trying to figure out how to remove carbon dioxide from industrial processes. Instead, how about removing it straight from the atmosphere? Look no further than to MIT to find the latest take on artificial photosynthesis. Plants are about 1% efficient in converting CO2. MIT has a process that’s 10X better. (MIT Technology Review)

For the serious geeks out there (admit it), here’s an update on using the thermoelectric effect to use waste heat and covert it to electricity. (

On Power Generation…

In Chicago, in the community of Bronzeville, ComEd is going all in on smartgrids and will to “deploy the first utility-owned microgrid in the United States—effectively allowing the community to “island” itself from the broader power grid and produce its own electricity for residents, businesses, schools and institutions.” (Scientific American)

Nuclear power is the backbone to most generation portfolios, but is producing electricity that is deemed too expensive because of market forces and public policy. This is, perhaps, an unhealthy situation because of the steady base load that nuclear plants provide. (Bloomberg)

From Jim: You can connect and interact with other power experts in the Power group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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