Tuesday, May 15, 2012

As Below, So Above.

In research, you know you're onto something good when extending an idea into new and more complex domains turns out to be elegant and simple. I had that experience recently with my Zome work when we took a serious look a extending into dispatchable demand and distributed generation.

One thing that never ceases to amuse me about the world of the power grid is how all of these closely related ideas get their own individual and unique names. Maybe that's just my perspective as an outsider entering the field, or maybe it's a result of the type of technological approach we're using, that lets it all be much more unified, but several times now an initially really opaque and thorny looking problem has turned out to be something that looks just like what we're able to do already, only painted a slightly different color.

So, from atop my mighty 30,000 foot view:
  • Demand response = stuff that you turn off in order to save power 
  • Dispatchable demand = stuff that you turn on in order to burn power 
  • Distributed generation = stuff that you turn on in order to make power 
OK, so that's oversimplifying it a bit too much, but from the perspective of the ColorPower algorithm, the categories collapse nearly that simply. Clarify some definitions, follow the consequences out as they ripple through the specification, and bam! Two new thorny power industry problems turn out to be able to be handled with the technology I've already developed... I tell you, that's the best damned feeling you ever get as a researcher.

Dealing with potential phase shifting on the other hand... that's still a daunting idea for me, and one that I'm glad we don't have to deal with quite yet, though I've got a few ideas now...

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