Friday, February 06, 2009
Once upon a time, there was a tree that grew between two civilizations. The trees roots were shallow but stretched great distances. Eventually the roots found a bountiful source of water and the tree fed itself from a great river called the Columbia. This river was the source of the power of the tree that the tree grew, from its branches, in the form of fruit.
This fruit was highly prized for the energy it produced, when the fruit came to each of the two civilization. However, the force competing for the fruit by each civilization was great and equal. Because the force exerted by each civilization was equal, as the need for the fruit grew, no fruit went to either civilization. The sum of the forces pulling at the fruit were zero.
That was until one day an idea was born and both societies agreed to the idea. It was thought that if 10% of the energy was changed, between the forces pulling at the fruit, then 100% of the power from the tree would be gotten, in the form of fruit.
In other words, it was decided that one of the civilization or the other would shake the tree, while the other got the fruit. This "shaking" would cause the fruit to fall, and the fruit would go to who ever needed it. It was latter agreed that the civilization who shook the tree would be paid by the one needing the fruit. This is the logic of the Obama's DC Power Grid, 10% change in energy produces a 100% change in power.
Under the Obama plan, the two civilizations, of the story, will be on either side of the Rockies, and the tree will grow between these two civilization. The logic of the system will be that the whole of North America will be turned into a type of storage battery, with the positive and negative terminals switching between the East and West.
The power will go to those needing the power and will come from those who are producing an excess of power. The differential voltage between the two will be in the rotation of the earth and other factors. When the sun sets in the East, the West will still have a time for sun power. If the wind doesn't blow in the East, then it will blow in the West. When the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine, then the rivers and oceans will flow; the coal and atom will burn. The reason behind this system is that while alternating current (AC) is easier to control, direct current (DC) is easier to command. Under the DC power grid, the power will go to who ever needs it, upon command. The way the system works now we are giving-up our ability to command, for the ability to control. The bringing-in of changing amounts of energy (wind and solar) into a tightly controlled system is presently not very practical.
With direct current, the problem will not be in commanding the energy to change, it will be in controlling the pulses of change. The DC line works by pulsating the electrical fields and "shaking' the tree. This pulse is produced by battery-like components called thyristors. They are battery-like in that they have an internal resistance which contains a large electrical field. By introducing a changing b-field, the thyristor is made to fire an electrical magnetic pulse into the electrical potential of the system.
It does not take much to command the change (pulse), but it take a great effort to control the number of pulses, the duration of pulses, and the position of the charge.
To accomplish this effort, of building the grid, it will take an army of workers and cheap micro-electronic. The cheap micro-electronics will be needed to control the pulses and to keep the project cost-effective. Without the effort being cost-effective there will be no buy-in by the displacement of wealth, within the world. Instead the wealth will go from the real estate boom into something else, like off-shore oil extraction.
This means building the grid will need to become an Asian-American project. The workers from the Americas, the micro-electronics from Asia. Even if the USA could build the micro-electronic needed for this project, the micro-electronics would cost more and be obsolete many times over.
I watched, on C-Span, a presentation given by a military expert in the field of micro-electronic. The presenter said that all micro-electronics are being built in China and are becoming obsolete every 18 months. This would leave me to believe it would take a heroic effort to close the obsolete gap, of several years, by a nation who needs to sleep in the bed of its own making. Our nation needs to look at how we positioned ourselves in the use of micro-electronic.
I am told that we are already spending way too much for our cell phones in the USA. In fact we are spending more than most people in the world for our information systems. Why, I am not sure, but it might be that we have lost our competitive edge long ago. It might be that we have become a nation for the government, by the government and with the government, a government whose internal force is largely un-competitive. Makes me think of the old USSR.