I am currently working on a university project in conjunction with Arc Innovations: http://www.cic.co.nz/ , a company specialising in digitised residential power metering.
The brief is pretty blue sky, and is simply a request to provide some avant-garde conceptualisation as to the future of how home-metering systems will work. There is huge potential to update obsolete technology, provide more detailed analysis of how individual power consumption is comprised etc.
I have decided to run with the blue sky possibilies, and have provided a new infrastructure at the same time- complete with some intreresting turbine ideas, which I will post as I go. As I see it, one has to completely understand the entire system before a new meter interface can be designed, and I think the whole grid system is, at present, massively inefficient.
Following is the basic infrastructure layout- I appreciate it is a hefty read, and I am working on a diagram to more efficiently explain the concept, but I would be grateful for any feedback on the idea so far.
Design Criteria – Network Infrastructure Circa 2015+
Building codes will require new, and eventually all, residential properties to specify their individual renewable sources of electrical energy. The ultimate manifestation of this code would be a building which has an integral generator built into its structure, providing total self-sufficiency while running. Advances in aerodynamic efficiency of wind turbines, as well as the scale and lack of complexity needed for a single building, would prove this concept to be feasible, safe, low-cost and non-intrusive in a suburban setting.
In areas where a structurally attached generator is not possible, for example the central city, areas with no obvious provision for harnessing natural energy, high density infill housing and apartments, or where the cost of an integral generator proves to be prohibitive, residential properties would each hold a number of shares in individual, medium sized generators. These generators would need only be in the same basic district as the properties served, retaining the proximity of end-user to generation source. Three generators from which to purchase shares would be allocated per property, allowing a degree of redundancy- the system would be balanced to allow a property to run at peak load on two generators, assuming there would not always be the conditions to allow all three to run concurrently. A number of shares would be bought relating directly to the number of bedrooms and other facilities of the house, from the time the house is under construction. From this point, the shares would be viewed as an integral element of the house itself, selling when the house is sold, and no less attached, in theory, than if physically part of the building construction. Removal and addition of bedrooms or indeed of entire houses, thus creating fluctuations in share distribution, would be easily absorbed by a dynamic energy generation share-market.
The energy from the share-held generators would continue to be distributed through the grid. A ‘stream’ of power directly related to the number of shares held is distributed to each house, this stream a percentage calculated in accordance with how much total power is being generated by the three individual share-held sources. To prevent inadvertent losses across the network, transmission losses are calculated and deducted from the provided stream. The residential properties, effectively owning their generators through the purchase of shares, and paying maintenance fees geared towards the size of their holding, now have these constant, if fluctuating, streams of electricity to use as desired. To this end, residential properties featuring either integral generators, or share-held generators are in the same basic position, and both remain connected to the grid.
Power companies would continue to play a role in the power generation system: manufacturing the generators; controlling maintenance of both the generators and the grid- invoicing the shareholders a half-yearly fee for this service, balanced by the number of shares held; and supplying electricity surplus to the supplied stream. If more energy is required over that which has been self-generated or allocated in streams, it would be bought seamlessly from the grid. This would be at a dynamic price geared to the amount of unused energy currently in the grid system, paid to the power companies, who would also be required to ensure a constant buffer of extra energy was always existant on the grid, particularly for non-residential requirements. The capability would also exist to sell surplus power from the allocated streams back to the grid at market prices. These prices would be dynamically geared so the grid would not be constantly losing revenue, that is, more money would need to enter through demand for extra capacity, than exit through paying for surplus energy returned to the grid. The extra capacity required would be more a demand of industrial entities, where energy needs are harder to meet through self-generation, -an example of the New Zealand family being able to directly benefit from increasingly offshore corporate cash flow. It is also considered that each residential property would have a high-capacity integral power cell, where during times of high surplus electricity provided from the stream, energy can be stored in preparation for times of high electricity use.
The net result of this system would be almost complete user control of energy generation. The grid would become holistically focused, with energy generation at all times precisely matched to real-world demand. Infrastructure costs would be more effectively absorbed, efficiency would be enhanced immeasurably, and the whole grid would act as an organic, ever-changing entity. Losses to multinationals would be cut, capital would remain in New Zealand and the only financial input required from the end user would be that required to specifically generate electricity.