And why it matters.
Dave Bryant is director for technology at CTC Global Corporation in Irvine, California. Dave was one of the inventors of the ACCC conductor, and primary author of “Engineering Transmission Lines with High-Capacity, Low-Sag ACCC Conductor.” He has supported over four hundred ACCC installations in more than forty countries.
In the power delivery business most of us associate the word efficiency with improvements in generation equipment, transformers and demand side appliances. While new more efficient components in many cases are more expensive than the less efficient units they replace, their higher prices have generally been easy to justify due to their reduced operating and lifecycle costs.
In 1992 the Energy Star® program was established to promote improved efficiency for appliances and building materials. This helped consumers better understand what they were buying and helped manufacturers market their improved products. Subsidies were often provided in many instances to inspire consumer investment and reduce the need to build new generation at presumably higher costs.
More recently our smart grid strategy was developed to help decrease peak load demand by shifting certain tasks to off peak hours. Recharging electric vehicles, being one example.
What's surprising is how little any of us actually think about the efficiency of the grid itself that connects our appliances, homes and electric cars to generation. Most of the wire used for this currently consists of aluminum strands wrapped around a steel core. This wire is called Aluminum Conductor Steel Reinforced, ACSR, and the technology is more than a hundred years old.