Sunday, January 31, 2010

CASE STUDY: Coping With Increasing Energy Demands in the US

By Mike Dickinson

According to Red Herring Inc., energy demands in the US are likely to surge by 32% in 2015. But even after being one of the highest energy consuming economies in the world, the US has come full circle. It is now one of the more aggressive nations in promoting alternative energy technologies.

Growing environmental concerns like Global Warming and the need for energy self-sufficiency has introduced in the minds of many US citizens a need to be more energy-efficient. The last few years have seen the launch of several energy-efficient electronic appliances and automobiles.

The US now plans to put in place infrastructure for harnessing and distributing alternate energy like solar, wind, hydro and thermal. A lot of investment - both government and private - is also being made towards this end, bringing down the cost of alternate energy. In the 1980s the average price of energy captured with photovoltaics was 95 cents per kilowatt-hour.

With technological improvements and tax benefits, solar-electric modules have now become more cost-effective. In 2008, the price had dropped to around 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the American Solar Energy Society. The US also currently has about 4.2 billion solar rooftops and as the popularity of solar energy increases, one can only expect the technology to become much more cost-effective.

The presence of wind energy in the US is also growing. According to the American Solar Energy Society, Wind power now competes with conventional energy at a price less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. In 2008 the US had roughly 300 million wind turbines. So industry and consumers can expect cost reduction on this front too.

The US is not alone in adopting many of these measures, as they are no longer an option; they are an imperative for a sustainable future. To be sure, there are many more problems to solve - for example, if 25% of the population switched to electric cars tomorrow, the demands on the power grid would be impossible to satisfy - and much thought and effort has to go into building the right infrastructure in a phased manner. Transformers, of course, will continue to play a crucial role in any power infrastructure.

Transformers currently contribute to a sizable amount of the energy lost in transmission, prompting the US Department of Energy (DOE) to come up with regulations to ensure that old transformers are replaced with more energy-efficient ones. This has hiked the cost of medium-voltage, dry-type transformers almost 13%, but will decrease electrical losses by as much as 26%.

It is in this area of building energy-efficient transformers that PCT plays a prominent role. PCT has years of experience in manufacturing customized energy-efficient transformers - in some aspects PCT has also been ahead of legislation. Currently PCT is also gearing up to meet demands of the wind energy sector with its specially designed, robust grounding transformers.

While the initial investment in energy-efficient transformers may seem high, so far it seems that utilities and industries are more than willing to invest in them, as the transformers pay for themselves very quickly over time.

To know more about Transformers check out Pacific crest transformers website:

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