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RE: California electric power on the ragged edge

  • From: Roeland M.J. Meyer
  • Date: Fri Aug 04 11:29:00 2000

> Greg A. Woods
> Sent: Friday, August 04, 2000 7:58 AM
> [ On Friday, August 4, 2000 at 12:19:05 (+0100), Alex Bligh
wrote: ]
> > Subject: Re: California electric power on the ragged edge

> > Larger customers (data centers) can indeed use separate
> > arrangements if appropriate. The subway system here does
> > power deals in London with dig (it self generates too), and
> > so do various other slightly unexpected utilities.
> Would it make sense for a datacentre in Sunny Calif. to become
its own
> generating facility and of course to resell its excess power
> back to the
> grid?  Burning diesel to generate electricity is obviously not
> effective nor is it environmentally friendly when done in any
> concentration, but perhaps a sufficiently large bank of solar
> panels and
> some wind power on the roof too, as well as a big enough bank
> batteries would allow someone to buy only cheap power overnight
to top
> up the batteries while the sun doesn't shine, selling excess
> generation
> capacity back to the grid when the sun shines bright while the
> blows!  I don't know what the economics of building a battery
> bank that
> big are though, not to mention the zoning regulations on
> having big sun
> and wind collectors might be....

Wouldn't work. Many have the large battery packs in their UPS
systems. However, every Kwh you sell back reduces your power-fail
reserves by that same amount. You would actually have to
over-build reserve capacity in order to do this and still survive
a power outage. Wind and solar power options are geo-physically
dependent. In the Altamount pass, the windmills don't turn all
the time and they use huge tracts of acreage. In the Silly-cone
valley, most of them wouldn't run at all, ever. By the same token
solar panels, for a data center, eat up much more square footage
than is available (although covering every roof-top with solar
panels might really add credence to the name "Silicon Valley").
In most other parts of the country, they have far too many cloudy
hours, reducing duty-cycles substantially.

There is also the issue of remembering what the core business is
and avoiding dilution of efforts.