Improving the Efficiency of the Electrical Grid

Electricity demands are increasing significantly in the U.S. However, climate change and the rise in temperatures impact the ability of power utilities to support these demands. With overheating conductors and increased line losses, consumers and businesses face more power outages and shortages. At the same time, utilities scramble to support growing load capacities with declining electrical infrastructure.

The need for a more efficient electrical grid is paramount. Learn more about how utilities develop a more efficient electrical grid to address growing energy demands amidst extreme temperature changes and how consumers and utilities benefit.

Why Improve Grid Efficiency?

Improving grid efficiency is necessary to reduce energy costs and address climate change. Power utilities are under pressure to keep up with increasing power demands. Meeting these demands often means overexerting power lines by increasing conductor currency and temperature.

However, overexertion can harm the power supply. When electrical lines reach maximum heat, they can no longer carry currency capacities safely. This lull in currency transfer leads to a reduction in load, causing power shortages and outages. Power utilities increase energy costs to address this shortage, meaning businesses and households must pay more for electricity.

Conversely, climate change means higher atmospheric temperatures and more strain on electrical grids. More adversely, increased AC resistance or current through power lines with warmer temperatures leads to overheating conductors and line loss. Therefore, the need for a more efficient power grid is essential.

How to Improve Grid Efficiency?

Upgrading old infrastructure is an excellent way to improve grid efficiency. For years, thermal uprating of power lines was the prime solution for addressing load growth. While thermal uprating or increasing current through overhead conductors might be an immediate solution to power demands, it is not sustainable.

In reality, uprating causes power loss in transmission lines, costing utilities substantial amounts on repairs and consumers higher energy bills. Overhead conductors are one of the main infrastructure components. Improving their design, size and materials is one of the best ways to effect change and develop a more efficient electric grid.

Strategies for Optimizing Conductors to Improve Grid Efficiency

Optimizing conductors is an achievable and effective solution for improving the efficiency of electrical grids. It involves improving conductor efficiency, design, size and core materials to mitigate line losses and power supply shortages:

Reduce Conductor Current

Reducing conductor current is one of the best solutions for improving conductor efficiency and life span. A lower resistance helps power lines run cooler while supporting load demands. This way, power infrastructures prevent damage to conductors and ensure a more stable electricity supply. It can also significantly reduce the cost of losses, including maintenance, repairs and replacement of power lines.

Investing in efficient conductors can offer more value in the long run. Power providers can save on reduced losses and sell conductors for a higher price.

Choose Suitable Conductor Design and Size

Conductors' designs can meet different budgets and efficiency. Optimizing designs helps manage loads, improve grid efficiency and reduce losses. For example, power utilities might have niche conductors for backup supplies in case of storms and other circumstances. These conductors have different materials to support various load demands. Specifying conductors for niche goals helps prevent overloading conductors and helps stabilize the power supply. It can also reduce power shortages and improve delivery.

Changing conductor design can also help utilities save money and maximize efficiency. For example, ACSS annealed conductors offer higher efficiency and capacity levels at a slightly higher cost than ACSR hard-drawn conductors. Supplementing the conductor core with more robust materials like steel can reduce the core area and lower total conductor costs without compromising efficiency.

The conductor's size is another factor contributing to more efficient power grids. While smaller conductors might seem more economical, they can carry less current, resulting in overloads and electricity reductions. Larger conductors might have higher initial costs but better long-term results and value. When considering the high cost of losses due to over-capacitated electrical grids, increasing conductor size has little effect on cost and can be a more economical and efficient option.

Efficient and Cost-Effective Core Wire

The performance of ACSR and ACSS conductors can vary based on their core wire materials like steel, composite and reinforced steel. The core materials differ in strength and size and can play a vital role in conductor efficiency, cost and effectiveness. ACSS and composite cores provide excellent efficiency. However, composite cores can cost more than alternatives. Steel cores cost less, have smaller diameters and have equally significant efficiency. Using efficient, robust and cost-effective core materials can reduce the costs and wear of conductors, extending their life span.

Use Suitable Conductors

Conductors vary in diameter, efficiency and cost. Utilities can manage currency output, minimize wear and reduce costs with appropriate conductors, providing more electricity generation efficiency. Comparing conductors based on these factors provides the best view of their efficiency. It can also help determine which conductor offers the best value for money, long-term results and sustainability.

  • Diameter: Smaller steel cores with larger aluminum outer diameters offer better efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
  • Efficiency: Reducing the steel core and increasing the aluminum area can result in lower current or resistance. However, lower current does not impact conductor efficiency, so reducing the core, increasing the aluminum and decreasing the conductor currency is more efficient.
  • Cost: Maximizing conductor efficiency for a set budget can be more cost-effective. Improving the efficiency of the conductor by increasing the aluminum area and decreasing the core wire is more cost-effective in the long term.

Choose Bekaert for Expert ACSS & ACSR Core Wire Manufacturing

Optimizing conditions for future efficiency is essential. Line losses and cost of losses can be significant without an efficient electrical grid. That's why Bekaert offers expert solutions for improving grid efficiency and sustainability.

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Contact Bekaert

We are the leading manufacturer in North America of high-quality core wires or strands for better conductor performance. We understand the importance of incorporating rigid, durable core wires for more robust and efficient cables. Our steel wire fabrication process can produce a high-performance, strong core wire for your needs and specifications.

Our company has extensive industry knowledge in core wire manufacturing and undertakes all our processes in-house, eliminating the need for outsourcing and improving your lead times.

Contact us to learn more.