Building a better telecom system

Jul 22, 2008

Hurricane Katrina helped University of Texas professor, Alexis Kwasinski, formulate a new plan for the U.S. telecom system: a de-centralized power architecture that would have kept the lights and phones on in New Orleans. Kwasinski maintains that a microgrid-based power plant with its own local power sources and independent control would be more dependable, efficient, and cost effective than traditional telecom power systems. Microgrids would also be a quick and inexpensive way to include renewable energy sources for both existing and developing systems.

"There has been surprisingly little research on disaster damage and restoration of telecommunications systems," says Kwasinski. "My survey of the Gulf coast after Katrina showed how devastating a single downed line or incapacitated substation can be. The answer is diverse power input. You integrate different types of local power sources with diverse energy delivery infrastructures through multiple-input converter modules."

Since the communications industry power standard is direct current (DC) local networks, Kwasinski is exploring DC generation systems using a microgrid-based telecom power plant with a modular distributed architecture. Energy would come from a mixture of renewable energy sources, microturbines, fuel cells, and interconnection to the existing utility grid. Converters in secondary distribution frames would isolate short circuit currents. Since the utility grid is a secondary source, the microgrid would be protected against the grid's surges and failures.

The savings would be generous. Microgrids could "sell" excess power to the utility grid. Costs decrease because of reduced energy storage, less down time, equipment operating at maximum efficiency, lower hardware expense, and optimal power input control based on energy costs.

"I think the most exciting aspect of the research is how flexible this approach is," says Kwasinski. "It works for developing countries who can add components to the system as they can afford it. Existing systems can easily be retrofitted with a microgrid system operating as a secondary distribution method. Small devices like solar panels and windmills can be added ad hoc, making for a painless transition to renewable energy at a competitive cost."

Source: University of Texas at Austin

Explore further: FX says overnight ratings becoming meaningless

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

T-Mobile deal helps Rhapsody hit 2M paying subs

20 minutes ago

(AP)—Rhapsody International Inc. said Tuesday its partnership with T-Mobile US Inc. has helped boost its number of paying subscribers to more than 2 million, up from 1.7 million in April.

Airbnb woos business travelers

32 minutes ago

Airbnb on Monday set out to woo business travelers to its service that lets people turn unused rooms in homes into de facto hotel space.

Google searches hold key to future market crashes

11 hours ago

A team of researchers from Warwick Business School and Boston University have developed a method to automatically identify topics that people search for on Google before subsequent stock market falls.

Lenovo's smart glasses prototype has battery at neck

13 hours ago

China's PC giant Lenovo last week offered a peek at its Google Glass-competing smart glass prototype, further details of which are to be announced in October. Lenovo's glasses prototype is not an extreme ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Corban
not rated yet Jul 22, 2008
Efficiency and Security usually don't go together. By increasing one, you reduce the other. This can only be bypassed by creativity or a large sum of money.