What can electric companies do with the extra electricity they create? The question is a popular one in engineering, as many theories and practices have been developed over the years. Some of the techniques are more efficient than others, while the few highly efficient solutions tend to be very costly. Scientists have to weigh the benefits and costs of each method based on a region’s needs and available resources.
Electric companies in Houston, Texas, have come up with several appropriate, efficient ways to store excess energy and make sure that it is available for consumers who need it at a future date. The energy providers that Houston customers rely on for their daily energy needs are quite efficient when it comes to conserving surplus power and using it at a later date.
The dilemma for energy providers in Houston and other big cities is to generate the right amount of electrical power at any given time. Public demand for energy changes from day to day and season to season. For example, most consumers are aware that the demand for electricity rises significantly during summer months when air conditioners are running almost constantly in warm cities like Houston.
From an engineering perspective, it’s very difficult to create the exact amount of energy that a given location, like a city in Texas, might need on a specific day. Sometimes the energy provider creates more electricity than is needed. Rather than waste the power, it must be stored and saved for another day. There are several standard ways to save or hold, electricity until it is needed, batteries being the best-known of all methods.
But batteries are quite inefficient for holding large amounts of power for long periods of time, so scientists and researchers have come up with a few other strategies for banking the excess voltage that generating stations create. Unlike more tangible commodities, electricity is what scientists call “slippery,” or hard to preserve. If a farmer produces a bumper crop of corn or wheat, it’s easy to store it. For electricity, storage is not so easy. Electric companies in Houston and other parts of the U.S. work hard to find the most efficient techniques for storing excess voltage.
Electric companies in Houston and elsewhere typically use one of the following eight methods for dealing with excess electrical power during periods of low demand.
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