In recent days the people of South Australia have been plagued by power outages. This is important for us in the USA because of the push for “renewable” energy. It turns out that SA’s rush to convert from clean coal to wind power is the root of the problem there, and now we are pushing to import the problem here.
While trying to refute the assertions of the anti-wind contingent (I am pro renewables, but obviously Thorium is the best solution, pun intended), I stumbled upon an interview with Andrew Dodson concerning a very interesting quality of our power distribution network that I had not considered: Rotating mass power generation over a complex RLC harmonic resonant network.
As a simplified model, imagine AC power distribution as a bunch of people throwing rocks into a lake at different points around the shore line. Your goal is to make all the waves you generate be in sync. If they are not in sync then the waves will either reinforce each other or cancel each other out. On our power grid, when the waves are slightly out of sync, things blow up or at the very least have a shortened useful life span.
One of the stand out points for me in this interview was the description of the problem with distributed coal fired plants in the 70’s. They tried having plants where the coal was located to save the transportation costs. When these plants came online the resonance in the RLC network caused a turbine shaft (4 foot or larger diameter hardened steel shaft) to snap. Sample Steam Turbine Shaft
Here is the full interview. Very interesting for us tech geek types. The bit about the turbine shaft breaking is here: https://youtu.be/gJtv7gkuh1s?t=7m38s