Power plants of the future may be designed to provide electricity solely for an individual housing estate, village, factory or college. That’s the prediction of University of Southampton engineer Dr Tom Markvart.
He claims large-scale systems of electricity generation used at present waste considerable amounts of energy by producing unwanted heat. It is also difficult to incorporate environmentally-friendly sources of energy such as wind farms and solar panels because of their intermittent and unpredictable outputs.
Dr Markvart, of the University’s School of Engineering Sciences (SES), is advocating the development of microgrids to provide a stable and reliable power supply from various energy sources. Small-scale generating equipment sited close to the eventual energy users could act as a stand-alone source of power, especially in remote areas, or be linked to the national grid. Energy storage devices would provide extra power at times of high demand. The proximity to customers would help boost energy efficiency to around 80 per cent compared to 35-40 per cent for a conventional generation system.
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