6uwu8KfUTSHc6sHH8HJkCPgZV4w Digital City Briefs - 30 Global Cities

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Can a small electric grid function when the main grid fails?

With Hurricane Sandy fresh in the minds of many Americans, and other recent storms in the past few years, blackouts are becoming a familiar experience. “In 2011, more than 3,000 outages in the U.S. affected 41.8 million people, according to the Eaton Corp., which tracks blackouts. That’s up from 2,169 power outages that affected 25 million people in 2008.”

A panel of experts in Connecticut suggests a micro grid as a way to combat blackouts. “A microgrid is essentially a small electric grid with its own generation source, such as fuel cells, wind, solar or other energy sources.” When power goes out, critical facilities such as hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies can remain open. The U.S. Department of Energy is currently spending $55 million to support eight microgrid projects, while there are already 270 micro grids worldwide.

Because they generally rely on cleaner energy sources, microgrids are more environmentally friendly than big power grids. And since they’re located near the point of demand, the electricity doesn’t have to travel as far, so less power is lost in transmission and distribution.

Reference: Daigneau, Elizabeth, Microgrid Technology Faces Its 1st Big Test, Governing, November 2012. 

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Interactive Cloud

As some of us await the fury of Hurricane Sandy, many of us can take great pleasure in an interactive sculpture that responds to people as well as local weather elements such as temperature, wind, rain, and humidity. The sculpture explores the connection between people and our natural environment through light and sound.

Three ethereal canopies come alive when people approach: Patterns of changing light and sound invite one to discover new paths under and between them, inspiring impromptu gatherings or even improvised performances.”

Reference: Cloud, Heyri, Korea, 2012

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

California’s Carbon Market to Curb Greenhouse Gases

California’s new law, known as A. B. 32, is a grand experiment to control climate change. It would become the first state to charge polluting industries for greenhouse gases they emit. It would offer allowances in a carbon trading market, where companies can purchase offset credits from projects that reduce green house gases.

A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off. Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced, which should force a reduction in emissions.”

Critics fear that it would drive away polluters such as refineries, cement makers and glass factories, while others argue that such offsets will be prone to misuse and produce little environmental benefits.


Reference: Barringer, Felicity, A Grand Experiment to Rein In Climate Change, The New York Times, October 13, 2012

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