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Budgie



Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Electricity Reply with quote

ok,

This may sound like a really pathetic question, but can someone just please explain to me in dodo terms.

Are we or are we not going to lose electricity? I have read many places "doomers" saying that we are headed back to the 15th century, and then many other "doomers" recommending electrician as a good future career. Now i do not know a thing about electricity, how it is generated, and i am no expert on peak oil. All i want to know is are we going to lose elctricity sometime soon and is training to be an electrician a good career choice or not?
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't answer your question 'are we going to lose...' but being an electrician, with one eye on pv, is a great career choice! Lots and lots of skills are involved and electricity is here to stay in one (generational) form or another...
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Kentucky Fried Panda



Joined: 06 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any trade or skill set is good for the future. Self sufficiency in all things will be greatly valued when everything is reduced to a local level.
Electricity will be with us for a long time, supply may become erratic, but I think we'll have the 'lekky for many years to come...
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mobbsey



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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Location: Banbury

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:04 am    Post subject: Re: Electricity Reply with quote

Budgie wrote:
Are we or are we not going to lose electricity?


It's splitting hairs, but electricity is a "chicken and egg" issue.

We're not going to lose electricity - there's more than enough junk around to easily turn into some form of generating equipment. The most entertaining example I ever was were paddles attached to the driving wheels of a light truck, immersed in the river at Mostar during the Yugoslav civil war, so that the rear diff. and gearbox upped the revs. to turn an electric motor to make power.

However, what are you going to use the power for? Modern technology -- computers, compact fluorescent bulbs, etc. -- require complex manufacturing and raw materials supply processes. Will the supply chain, at least in the short/medium term, survive the economic descent following peak oil and gas?

So, it's not just about getting enough power to supply your needs -- it's also important to ensure that the systems you are powering are repairable and maintainable for the long-term (which call into question anything with a "black box" control system, such as cars, washing machines, etc.).
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Budgie



Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the answers.

Mobbsey, you raise an interesting pint. What is electricity exactly going to be used for post peak, when modern tech is not going to feasible to manufacture?

Quote:
However, what are you going to use the power for? Modern technology -- computers, compact fluorescent bulbs, etc. -- require complex manufacturing and raw materials supply processes. Will the supply chain, at least in the short/medium term, survive the economic descent following peak oil and gas?
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skeptik



Joined: 24 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Electricity Reply with quote

Budgie wrote:
ok,
All i want to know is are we going to lose electricity sometime soon

Sometime soon? I doubt it. At least not in the developed industrialised countries. Electricity supply in the third world will come unzipped first. First world will outbid third world for declining resources. It's already starting to happen in some places.

Budgie wrote:
ok,
and is training to be an electrician a good career choice or not?

Good choice. Anybody with skills in repairing stuff and keeping it working will be in high demand. Electrical or mechanical engineering to degree level, or City and Guilds electrician would be a wise choice.
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fifthcolumn



Joined: 22 Nov 2007
Posts: 2525

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The answer is yes we will have electricity.
Why?

Because it's the grid that is key to our survival, not cheap petroleum based transport.

If the grid goes down we are dead. We will have an immediate catastrophic collapse as all interlocking systems everywhere depend on electricity.

Think for a moment what happens if the grid goes down:
Sewage treatment plants stop working
Hospital equipment stops working.
No lights anywhere.
Refrigeration stops working.
This board goes down (shock horror!)
Petrol pumps stop working.
Electric doors stop working.
Lifts stops working.
Bank Machines stop working.
Debit card machines in shops stop working.

We can handle collapsing oil supply better than we can handle a failed grid.

In the UK especially where we have between 7 to 10 times too many people to support if we fell back down to pre-industrial times, we are truly in deep doo doo if the grid goes down.

So.... The grid WILL stay up, because if it doesn't there will be no WE to talk about, we'll be dead.
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clv101
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fifthcolumn wrote:
So.... The grid WILL stay up, because if it doesn't there will be no WE to talk about, we'll be dead.


It's not so black and white. Look at South Africa. I'm as certain as I am of anything that 10 years from now the UK won't be generating 400TWh of electricity per year.
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fifthcolumn



Joined: 22 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

clv101 wrote:
fifthcolumn wrote:
So.... The grid WILL stay up, because if it doesn't there will be no WE to talk about, we'll be dead.


It's not so black and white. Look at South Africa. I'm as certain as I am of anything that 10 years from now the UK won't be generating 400TWh of electricity per year.


It's black and white in terms of answering the OP's question.
The OP asked if we will have electricty.
Yes we will.

Your response is the answer to a different question:
Will we have the same, worse or better level of electricity than we do now?

If you think we'll be worse off than we are now then explain yourself because just breezily making a statement doesn't cut it for those who are quaking in their pants worried about the future.

My personal take is that the UK is in a pretty poor position compared to some other countries but DOES have the potential to run an all-electric economy not too too different from the one we have now with the exception that many more people take public transport than currently do. This will require massive build of instrastructure so the question here is: do we have the public and political will to raise the capital at the expense of current consumption in order to have a more secure future.

It is quite possible that we do not have the will and will collapse into chaos and anarchy or just simple general poverty like some eastern european nations.

It is also quite possible that we may decide to fight like Japan and Germany did when they were faced with a collapsing economy and resource constraints.
We have nuclear weapons and a pretty good ability to project force.
British Empire Part II or Defeated Germans at the end of WWII?
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adam2
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMHO we may well lose grid electricity, especially in low prioity rural areas. However I believe that becoming an electrician would still be a wise career choice.
As grid power becomes less reliable, demand for generators and battery back up will increase thereby providing more work for electricians.
In the event of a total/near total long term grid failure, than electrical skills ( and the possesion of tools and spares) would be very valuable indeed to communities generating theire own power.
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peakprepper



Joined: 28 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2008 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of the hundreds of PO prep things I have done in the last year, one of the main two is retraining to become an electrician (the other has been to move house to a more rural area, smaller house + more land).

It took me months of agonising to reroute all my skills and energy into this, and quite a few ??? also.

On a micro level, I believe it will be a worthwhile career, and the hurdles I will encounter will be challenging to say the least.

On a macro level, we face a huge black hole in energy and power generation in the years to come - reading between the lines, power companies get on their knees and prey for a benign winter every year, as a single degree drop in temperature below their calculated threshold values means chaos (3 day week, alternating power distribution between homes and industry, etc etc).

Throw into the mix that we have all but blown our North Sea oil inheritance, that several major power stations have been decommissioned for major servicing (and we're not talking about a 1/2 day spent changing the plugs and the oil here, we're talking several years of outage), that even if we adopt a small amount of nuclear generated grid power it will take *years to come online*, and that apparently our coal power stations are running at near full output, and the outlook does seem fairly bleak.

I am just putting the finishing touches to my 7 1/2 kw lister powered genny which will also provide heat, but even this is not that simple: most devices in the home are now microprocessor controlled, from your washing machine to your toaster: in simple terms, this means that the electricity provided must be "pure" ie a near perfect sine wave. So you install a battery bank which gives you the smooth output you require but at a fairly high cost... and so it goes on.

Most generators (and I include mine) will not deliver this kind of consistent pure sine wave, and so you end up with appliances which "sulk" and won't work, because they are not seeing "the right kind of electricity" at best, or whose power input controller gets fried by the varying genny output at worst.

So you really can't beat the hyper-smoothed output of the Grid, and we had better all hope it will keep on working.

Oddly enough, the sort of machines which can stand variable and dirty power the best are PC's!
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hardworkinghippy



Joined: 16 Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Location: Bergerac France

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Oddly enough, the sort of machines which can stand variable and dirty power the best are PC's!


...and thank goodness for that ! Smile

It's nice to have electricity for lighting, radio, music, computer, and telly, videos etc. and all that's doable with a few solar panels and a windcharger.

Someone who can fix that sort of thing will be very useful in years to come. Smile
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adam2
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peakprepper wrote:

I am just putting the finishing touches to my 7 1/2 kw lister powered genny which will also provide heat, but even this is not that simple: most devices in the home are now microprocessor controlled, from your washing machine to your toaster: in simple terms, this means that the electricity provided must be "pure" ie a near perfect sine wave. So you install a battery bank which gives you the smooth output you require but at a fairly high cost... and so it goes on.

Most generators (and I include mine) will not deliver this kind of consistent pure sine wave, and so you end up with appliances which "sulk" and won't work, because they are not seeing "the right kind of electricity" at best, or whose power input controller gets fried by the varying genny output at worst.

So you really can't beat the hyper-smoothed output of the Grid, and we had better all hope it will keep on working.

Oddly enough, the sort of machines which can stand variable and dirty power the best are PC's!


I have used modern domestic appliances on generator power without problems, in my experience the waveform is very similar to grid power and unlkiely to be a problem unless the generator is overloaded.

A varying voltage can be a problem, but remember that the mains can vary quite a bit as well.
The voltage variation of small generators can be reduced by avoiding sudden large changes in load, for example use three heaters each rated at 1KW rather than a single 3KW heater. Each heater should have its own switch or thermostat, thus limiting sudden load changes. Use of a 1KW kettle instead of 3KW also helps.

Cheap square wave inverters are much more likely to be a problem than diesel generators in my experience.
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kenneal - lagger
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Joined: 20 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

adam2 wrote:
Use of a 1KW kettle instead of 3KW also helps.

Cheap square wave inverters are much more likely to be a problem than diesel generators in my experience.


Use of a bottle gas or wood powered kettle is even better.

We run most things on our 6kW Lister genny and there are two problems, overloading and underloading. Overloading switches very thing off and underloading for extended periods glazes the bores of the engine and causes horrendous lubricating oil use. You need to work the engine at at least 75% power for about 48 hours on a regular basis. We have bought two variable power electric fires so that we can increase the load controllably when the exhaust gets too smoky.

In a domestic situation the best method of using a genny, IMO, is to use it to charge a battery bank, running it at high power for a few hours once or twice a day. When the genny is not running you run your lights, a fridge, telly and computers through an inverter. Washing machines, hair dryers, freezers (chest), other high power stuff and, of course, the battery charger can only be used when the genny is running. It requires two separate circuits, preferably with different socket types to protect the inverter from the "wrong type of load".

This way the genny runs at its most efficient rate. If the cooling system is connected to your hot water system you have up to about 10kW, in my case, of heat available as well. It does require a heat exchanger on the exhaust as well as the engine cooling to get full output. A large hot water cylinder is also useful, 200 - 300 litres. It's called combined Heat and Power (CHP).
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emordnilap



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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kenneal: you should write a book! Or at least, a pdf. I'd pay for detailed inside practical knowledge such as you have.
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