Power Grid

How the Electrical Grid Works

The power grid was once something taken for granted, except when it wasn't there. But this has not always been true, and with the rise of renewable power, it has become a matter of frequent discussion—and misunderstanding.

This series of articles will try to give the reader an understanding of how the grid works. It will cover the pieces it is built from, how they fit together, the tradeoffs and concepts.

The goal is to provide the reader with a background to better understand the discussion of options ahead of us and especially to spot when being fed nonsense. An example of nonsense is "you cannot have a green grid without nuclear power". The truth is much more nuanced; a matter of economic tradeoffs and consequences. Dogmatic statements seldom apply to reality. A green grid is easier with nuclear power than without. One with nuclear may or may not be economical compared to one without.

It is not the primary purpose of this series to argue for or against a particular choice. I will offer opinions from time to time, but I will also show what forces lie behind my opinions. I hope to instill in the reader the ability to judge when changes might render my opinions invalid, and how policy choices take us in different directions.

Time has grown short.

This series was initially inspired by DOE Secretary Rick Perry's 2017-04-15 call for a review of the grid, aimed squarely at arguing for a need for continued reliance of fossil fuels.

October 26, 2019

March 26, 2019