Posts tagged “power”

LED lighting: an accelerated learning curve?

News from Samsung (exiting the LED market) and Philips (spinning off their LED division) would seem to indicate rapid learning in the LED space. From Reuters:

Analysts say Samsung Electronics’ retreat reflects the growing competition from Chinese manufacturers even as demand for LED lighting remains strong. LED lamps last 10 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and 100 times longer than traditional incandescent tungsten filament bulbs.

“It appears that Samsung decided to fold the business because price competition was so fierce and there was not a lot of room for growth going forward,” said Seoul-based IM Investment analyst Lee Min-hee.

Philips said in September that it will spin off its lighting business to expand its higher-margin healthcare and consumer divisions. Two month earlier, Germany’s Osram Licht AG , which also makes LED lights, announced a cost-cutting plan that included nearly 8,000 job cuts.

Jason Snell put it best:

So, bad news for Samsung and other businesses betting on big margins for bulbs, but good news for everyone else.

Attack on California Power Plant

I don’t usually link to this kind of stuff. As it is related to energy and physical infrastructure — and is a different type of failure than we’re used to — I think it is worth some thought. The story was originally covered by the WSJ and Foreign Policy; both of those articles are behind paywalls.

The strike against the power plant sounds surgical. The WSJ outlined the timeline of events:

At 12:58 a.m., AT&T fiber-optic telecommunications cables were cut—in a way that made them hard to repair—in an underground vault near the substation, not far from U.S. Highway 101 just outside south San Jose. It would have taken more than one person to lift the metal vault cover, said people who visited the site.

Nine minutes later, some customers of Level 3 Communications, an Internet service provider, lost service. Cables in its vault near the Metcalf substation were also cut.

At 1:31 a.m., a surveillance camera pointed along a chain-link fence around the substation recorded a streak of light that investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office think was a signal from a waved flashlight. It was followed by the muzzle flash of rifles and sparks from bullets hitting the fence.

The substation’s cameras weren’t aimed outside its perimeter, where the attackers were. They shooters appear to have aimed at the transformers’ oil-filled cooling systems. These began to bleed oil, but didn’t explode, as the transformers probably would have done if hit in other areas.

About six minutes after the shooting started, PG&E confirms, it got an alarm from motion sensors at the substation, possibly from bullets grazing the fence, which is shown on video.

Four minutes later, at 1:41 a.m., the sheriff’s department received a 911 call about gunfire, sent by an engineer at a nearby power plant that still had phone service.

Riddled with bullet holes, the transformers leaked 52,000 gallons of oil, then overheated. The first bank of them crashed at 1:45 a.m., at which time PG&E’s control center about 90 miles north received an equipment-failure alarm.

Five minutes later, another apparent flashlight signal, caught on film, marked the end of the attack. More than 100 shell casings of the sort ejected by AK-47s were later found at the site.

The Bakken Oil Shale Field

Nice, keen catch from Dr. Drang:

Look north and slightly east of Denver. See that big, somewhat diffuse patch of light? Here’s a zoomed-in view of that area with a few cities labeled to help you get your bearings.

Even if you didn’t know that this lit-up patch was in a generally empty area, covering western North Dakota and parts of eastern Montana and southern Saskatchewan, you could guess that it’s not a population center; despite its size, there’s no bright center to it.

The lights are from the oil shale fields spread out over the Williston Basin. It’s one thing to read about the boom in oil shale, it’s quite another to see such graphic evidence.

As a point of reference, here’s EIA map of 2011 oil shale plays in N. America.

Humidity, Rain, and Power Losses

Made it to India Sunday night around midnight. Skirted through customs and baggage claim with little incident. Was stopped on the way out by a well-heeled, well-dressed fellow asking what was in my bag (not much outside of clothing and some teflon and quartz filters). Managed to talk my way out of a bag search, and then emerged from the airport into the stifling, 88 degree heat. It was 11:30p. It was 88 degrees… at midnight.

My glasses fogged up, sweat beaded on my forehead, and it finally registered: I was back in the motherland.

A short drive later, I found myself at a family friend’s house in Noida (which has grown, emboldened by status, into a thriving metropolitan suburb of its own). The apartment building (Stellar Kings Court) was well outfitted. I collapsed into a fitful sleep, interrupted by what turned out to be one of the largest power outages India has ever faced.

From the BBC:

An estimated 370 million people — about 60 million more than live in the U.S. — were without power for at least part of today in northern India because of a massive failure in the country’s power grid.

It was “one of the worst blackouts to hit the country in more than a decade,” The Times of India reports. The outage turned the [Monday] commute in New Delhi and other major cities in the north into chaos as trains couldn’t run and traffic signals went dark, correspondent Elliot Hannon tells our Newscast Desk.

Traffic was indeed horrendous, though by the time I made it to the Metro service had resumed and things were progressing normally. India Ink, from the NYT has a nice description of the “chaos” resulting from the power outage:

Power failures are common in India, but officials said Monday’s blackout was the worst in a decade. The Ministry of Power was investigating the cause, but officials suggested that part of the problem was probably excessive demand during the torrid summer. “This is a one-off situation,” said Ajai Nirula, the chief operating officer of North Delhi Power Limited, which distributes power to nearly 1.2 million people in the region. “Everyone was surprised.”

Monday’s blackout could have proved more crippling if not for what might be called India’s unofficial power grid — the tens of thousands of diesel generators and inverters, most privately-owned, that serve as backup power sources during the frequent localized failures. Many hospitals across the region are equipped with backup generators, as are many office buildings and government offices. In New Delhi, many homeowners also have their own private backup.

“The electricity here goes every day, several times a day,” said Sushil Gupta, general manager of Ashok Mahajan Hospital in Amritsar, in Punjab State. “We have installed two large generators. We don’t even know when the power goes and comes. Today was like any other day.”

India’s power supply has been especially tested during this year’s hot, dry summer. Electricity use has skyrocketed, especially in large metropolises like New Delhi, home to more than 16 million people. In recent weeks, with a poor monsoon, New Delhi has set new records for energy demand.

The scale of Monday’s grid failure was enormous. Beginning at 2:30 a.m., the entire state of Rajasthan, with 67 million people, lost power. Power failures also affected the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, as well as the Delhi metropolitan region, which includes the capital, New Delhi. The capital’s seven water treatment plants, which require hundreds of megawatts of power, also temporarily lost power. However, officials said water service was fully restored by early evening.

Update: Power has been lost throughout the North + East of India for a second time. At 1:45pm Tuesday, demand in Delhi peaked at slightly over 4000 MW. Supply was measured at 38 MW.

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snarglr is written & maintained by ajay pillarisetti



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