Issues and Technologies of Effective Energy Management

Issues and Technologies of Effective Energy Management

Edward T. Chen (University of Massachusetts – Lowell, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4852-4.ch022
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss critical issues and the role technology plays in today’s energy sectors. Specific emphasis is placed on security, mobile dispatch solutions, and the so-called “Smart Grid.” The industry continues to grow in both size and complexity, creating a multitude of challenges for companies as they struggle to keep the lights on. The utility business has traditionally lagged behind other sectors in the adoption and implementation of new technologies. However, mounting economic, environmental, social, and political pressures have thrust this once lumbering dinosaur out into the spotlight. Energy companies must look to innovative technology solutions to help them keep pace with our growing society. The chapter also touches upon how these issues create meaningful educational and employment opportunities.
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Energy Industry Overview

Electricity. It is amazing how something so seemingly simple can become so ingrained into our daily lives. Light bulbs, computers, smart phones, home appliances, and most recently consumer vehicles would all cease to function without the controlled flow of electrons. In order to fully appreciate the current state of this critical industry and predict its future direction, we must start at the beginning.

Society’s first recordable encounters with electricity occurred about 2,600 years ago during the era of the ancient Greeks (Warkentin, 1998). In fact, interestingly enough the words electron and magnet are both subsequently of Greek origin. Given the primitive technology of the time, the Greeks were limited in their discoveries to the observation of simple concepts like static electricity and the effects of magnetism. However, from these humble beginnings came a series of powerful experiments conducted by some of humanity’s greatest scientific minds. Pioneers such as Maxwell, Faraday, and Volta helped to lay the groundwork for the industrial revolution and the eventual birth of the electric industry.

While there have been many contributors over the years, there are two in particular whose work cannot be ignored. Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse sought to bring electricity to the masses with their respective companies, eventually coming into conflict over what would be called “the war of currents.” In 1882, Edison had established a direct current (DC) system to serve neighborhood incandescent lighting facilities. Centered in Manhattan, the Pearl Street Station became the first Investor Owned Utility (IOU) in the United States. Westinghouse on the other hand, had begun developing Alternating Current (AC) technology, boasting its superiority for transmitting power over longer distances to that of Edison’s system. The two sides then engaged in a lengthy battle of propaganda and smear campaigns, attempting to win support from a largely uneducated populace. AC power eventually emerged as the dominant technology and has been used extensively in the construction and operation of the Bulk Electric System (BES).

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