13. June 2013

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Future Lies in Smart Grids

Rising energy prices, increased environmental awareness and desire for greater control on the power consumption are some of the factors that that have led to an urgent need for making our power grids technically advanced. Though, smart grid technology has been making headlines recently, few are familiar with the entire gamut of its benefits and its role in boosting the power sector.

What can a Smart Grid do?
Most of our existing power plants pump energy into the electricity grid but have no precise control over the flow or amount of electricity or over frequency fluctuations, something that is increasingly important with modern gadgets and power sensitive facilities like data centres. We also know how an electricity disruption can drastically affect banking, communications, corporate businesses and security. A smart grid with distributed set of sensors and switches and two-way interactive capacity can add resilience to the electric power system, minimize outages and allow automatic rerouting during equipment failure.

Moreover, the present power generation depends largely on fossil fuels which are the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. To minimize environmental impact, on one hand we need to optimize our electricity grid systems and on the other, reduce dependence on fossil fuels. A smart grid helps manage electricity demand sustainably, as it possesses energy storage potential and demand response capacity to balance electrical consumption with supply. It also has the capability to integrate renewable energy resources like wind and solar onto the grid, offering reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, consumers will be able to sell their PV-solar generated energy upstream to the utility in the form of a credit to their energy bill.

But, what makes a grid smart?
A key driver in the smart grid implementation is the latest digital and automation technology that allows for a two way communication between power supplier and power consumer. It consists of computer based remote controls and has existing & emerging technologies working together to respond digitally to fast changing electricity demands. When properly implemented, these technologies can increase efficiencies in power production, transmission and distribution (T&D), improve reliability and enhance consumer participation.

Some of the advanced smart grid technologies in transmission include Flexible alternating current transmission systems (FACTS) to deliver maximum power and help stabilize the grid with precise power control, High-voltage direct current (HVDC) technology to supply long distance power with minimum energy loss, Wide area monitoring systems (WAMS) for tracking critical system parameters and Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) that analyses real-time grid conditions. Besides, high-efficiency distribution transformers, intelligent substations and automated distribution feeder enable instantaneous adjustments to changing loads.

However, smart grid is not just about utilities and technologies, but also about giving consumers information and tools to make choices about their energy use. The building automation systems for HVAC, lighting and water supply pump systems are solutions for consumers to take control of their energy usage. Additionally, smart meters give users information on the units of energy consumed and real time pricing for the same.

Barriers & Solutions for Smart Grid Operation
While, there are many advantages of a smart grid, there are certain hurdles to overcome in its implementation. Installing smart grid requires renovating the power network including cabling and substations which needs huge investments. Lack of consumer awareness, insufficient economic incentives by policy makers, cyber security and data privacy are some of the other major issues. However, the scale and degree of these challenges vary from country to country.

Creating favourable rules and regulations and the right economic environment in a country will help attract more private players and provide access to affordable funds. Also, needed is a robust national political and economic framework to guard the investors from risk and to yield power at lower cost to the customers. Simultaneously, educating consumers before implementing smart grid concepts and offering user friendly products and services will help them adopt new technology easily. And to tackle cyber security risks and data privacy issues, utilities can employ rigorous cyber security standards.

As a matter of fact, given the growing energy demands of the world, it is imperative we upgrade our aging energy infrastructure. The smart grid represents an opportunity for the power sector, to move into a new era of reliable energy supply, integrated renewable power source and reduced carbon footprint.

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19. May 2013

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Building a House? Keep Some Cash in Hand!

Everyone knows that building a home is an expensive endeavor. The amount of payments to be made is not limited to the cost of buying the property and the construction only. There are always a lot of other expenses that need to be taken care of. Paying the workers, the architect, getting all the permits and payment of the agent, who has been hired to get the property, all these will be factored into the amount of money that is required for constructing a house. So even though most people have opted for a construction linked plan to get the finances from bank, it is always beneficial to keep an amount of cash in hand, in case of some unforeseen circumstances.

Many people think that since they have opted for a loan from the bank, money will not be a problem. However, they must remember that a lot of protocol and procedures have to be completed, before the money actually makes it into your hand. As a result, the construction of your house could be stopped for lack of money. As stopping of construction can lead to extra expenses, due to the rise in prices, most people like to finish off the work as soon as possible. Therefore, to ensure this does not happen, it is always advisable to keep thirty percent of the budget in cash, just for the sake of emergency. Though it seems like a large amount, this money will be used for a variety of purposes, some of which are mentioned here -

* When purchasing a house, the down payment has to be made before the loan is sanctioned to you. Therefore, keeping that in mind, cash should be kept ready. Also the costs for closing the deal will have to be paid.

* Once you get a loan, the mortgage payments and taxes will have to be paid by you. Therefore, having a constant source of income will enable you to do that. The good news is that most banks provide you with a payment that will be affordable in relation to the amount you are earning every month. * All of the payments of the architect, inspectors and real estate agents are made prior to the loan amount being paid. These costs can combine to form a large amount which will require a substantial amount of cash from your side.

* It is not possible to exactly calculate the amount of money required for constructing a house. More often than not, you will go over the budget that you have set. Taking care of these costs will require extra cash from your side. * When you start building a house, you have an idea in mind as how the house should look like. Though many times, during the course of the construction, you might decide to change some features or get some upgrades done to the house, which can cost you extra.

Seeing this list you can clearly imagine that the process of home building is an expensive and time consuming one. Never spread your finances too thin, as it can leave you in a precarious position. Instead, always arrange for surplus cash, which you can fall back on in times of emergency.

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19. May 2013

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Plan the Construction Of Your Home To Make Life Simpler

Shelter is one of the basic requirements of man, along with food and clothing. Homes are no longer just a place where humans find shelter from the elements and predators, but these have become a symbol of individuality. A home owner reflects his personality and creativity through the construction of his house. Apart from that they are also a great investment option available to people. The large guaranteed returns, caused by the appreciation of the value of the property, make it a popular choice among investors. As a result more and more people are treating construction of houses as an investment and are putting a lot of their finances into the improvement of their houses, so they can sell it again at a good profit.

Constructing a house is a highly complex procedure, which requires a lot of understanding of many different trades that will be required when constructing a house. That is why planning of a house comes in handy. It is very important that before the construction of the house begins, the planning should be done. Lists have to be made regarding the tasks that have to be undertaken and then priority should be assigned to them. This is necessary as the house is built from the foundation up. If any oversight has been done to the foundation, then it will require that the house be redone or it could lead to unsafe living conditions. Planning requires that the structure of the house, to be build, must be decided first. A proper planning regarding the final structure should be done, as it will enable the architect to picture the final structure, so he can make the required adjustments.

If you have constructed a house before and have experience in building houses, then it is important that the experience should be applied. Mention the things that you did not like about the previous home, so you can avoid those mistakes here. Go online and find various traits that you would like to have in your house. The internet gives you a large amount of information that can be used to benefit you. Not only that, there are various sites online that will provide you with step by step instructions when it comes to constructing a house.

It is important to mention down all the specific features that you want in your house. The number of rooms, their size, position of the kitchen and how many stories should the building have. All these should be decided early on, so as to not create any confusion while the construction is taking place. Also, decide the green materials to be used in the house, as not only will it reduce the usage of energy, but can save you a lot finances too.

Nowadays, there is a lot of information available which can be used for your benefit. Devising a proper plan and following it will create a proper order for the construction process. This will definitely help you, whether you are an experienced or a first time builder.

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17. May 2013

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How To Choose a Good Home Builder?

Relocating to a new place is a daunting task. Moving away from an area where you have grown comfortable is a worrying notion. Many times the shift is to a different city, state or even a country. As a result, there is a need for the person to arrange for accommodation. Many jobs demand for a person to be transferred quite regularly, so such people prefer renting accommodations, while others who have moved on a permanent basis like to purchase a new house. They can either buy a new house or have one constructed. For those, who want their new house to be constructed from scratch, finding a reliable builder is a very important requirement. Having a good builder is very necessary as the builder will be in charge of the construction of your house.

As a builder will exercise a lot of authority, when it comes to the construction of your house, it is important that a lot of care be taken when hiring a builder. Considering the fact that the builder will be constructing the house where you plan to live with your family, it is important that you receive the best quality work so that your family gets the best. While choosing the best builder from a large list of companies and contractors, it can be quite confusing to know which one will be the best choice. As this choice is as important as any of the choices that you will make while the construction of your house is taking place, the following factors need to be considered to hire the best.

The most important factor to consider is to find out whether the company is reputable. By reading the references and feedback of previous customers one can find out the quality of the work performed by the company. Getting quality work can be assured by a reputed company, as they put up high standards when hiring workers. The knowledge they have will be of much use to you. Asking a relative or a friend will help you in getting an idea about the market. Just randomly asking any company will not be in your best interests. Finding out some of the projects undertaken by the company and then checking them will help you to get an idea about the quality of the work that they provide.

It is always preferred to spread your net as wide as possible, when you are looking for builders. Ask around as many of the builders that you can. Ask them questions about all the features that they provide. With the amount of competition in the construction industry, every company is trying to provide something extra which will make people prefer their business over others. Therefore, the more questions that you ask, the better chance you have of understanding the whole system. Since your house is what is being built, it is important to have the best.

Research is very important, not only regarding the builders, but also the locality where you plan to build your house. Each area has its own legislation and updating yourself regarding that will always be a good idea.

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