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How to move more power with the transmission lines we already have

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How to move more power with the transmission lines we already have
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Grid-enhancing technologies enable us to get more out of existing power lines. Here’s an in-depth look at one such technology: dynamic line rating.

But in the meantime — and given how long it takes to build new transmission lines, that meantime could be a long time indeed — there are ways to expand the clean-energy capacity of the power grids we already have. One of the most effective methods for doing this could be using grid-enhancing technologies, or GETs for short.

The term GETs covers a variety of technologies, each with its own role to play. Dynamic line-rating systems can reveal that high-voltage power lines are able to safely carry more electricity than previously known. Topology optimization software can discover ways to configure transmission grid networks to ease power flow bottlenecks that are preventing power from reaching customers. Power flow routing devices can actively direct the flow of electrons from overloaded to underutilized power lines in real time.

Real-world deployments of these GETs over the past decade have shown that they can cost-effectively deliver benefits like redirecting power flows around congested grid lines and reducing the cost of interconnecting more solar and wind power resources. More recent studies have shown that using multiple types of GETs in tandem can unlock enormous amounts of latent capacity on U.S. transmission grids.

A study last year indicated that the use of GETs on the grids crisscrossing the wind-rich plains of Oklahoma and Kansas could double the capacity for new clean energy projects and reduce the amount of power lost to grid congestion, yielding paybacks twice the cost of deploying the technologies in the first year of operations alone.

And in February of this year, the U.S. Department of Energy released a study indicating GETs could pay back their costs through higher production and increased capacity for renewables in New York state within half a decade — far more quickly than traditional grid upgrades.

Achieving these hypothetical best-case scenarios from GETs deployments will take a lot of work, however. Despite their growing track record in delivering real-world value in deployments in Europe and Australia, GETs are just beginning to be put to use in active grid planning and operations in the U.S. Integrating multiple technologies across wide swaths of the grid is still in the realm of computer modeling rather than real-world grid operations.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Utilities are conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies and leery of novel approaches to operating their grids that could threaten safety and reliability.

But there’s also a more troubling barrier to deployments of GETs in the U.S., one stemming from misaligned regulatory and economic incentives. Simply put, most U.S. transmission-owning utilities make money by convincing regulators to allow them to invest in new power lines and make other capital expenditures for equipment — not by making the power lines they already have work more efficiently.

As DOE’s report notes, ​transmission owners and utilities receive a rate of return on their capital investments for infrastructure projects. GETs often represent lower capital cost alternatives to traditional investments such as new transmission lines, meaning a lower overall return for investors.”

This utility regulatory paradigm is known as ​cost of service” because it rewards utilities with guaranteed rates of return for costs incurred by building new capital infrastructure and equipment — and many energy experts fear that it is fundamentally mismatched with the needs of a modernizing grid. This has stymied action on investing even in technology required by federal law. The 2005 Energy Policy Act directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to develop incentives to improve operations of the interstate transmission networks it oversees, but FERC has yet to create incentives for deploying GETs.

Back in SeptemberFERC fielded several proposals for how to structure GETs incentives for utilities, transmission owners and the grid operators that manage transmission planning and investment for electricity markets serving about two-thirds of the U.S. population. But ​there hasn’t really been any action since that conference,” said Rob Gramlich, president of consultancy Grid Strategies and executive director of the WATT Coalition, a trade group of GETs companies. That’s frustrating, given that WATT and clean energy industry trade group Advanced Energy Economy have had a GETs incentive proposal filed with FERC since June 2020, he said.

FERC has been quite busy since then, Gramlich acknowledged. Over the past few months, the commission has unveiled a series of ambitious policy proposals stemming from a year-long effort to unblock the grid bottlenecks that are causing multibillion-dollar congestion costs and preventing solar, wind and battery projects from interconnecting to the grid.

The long-range grid-planning and interconnection proposals that have emerged from this process include a role for GETs, as FERC Commissioner Willie Phillips noted in the June meeting during which FERC approved a plan for interconnecting clean energy projects to the grid more quickly.

GETs are something I talk about a lot,” Phillips said. ​I think this is important because…it could save consumers money as we move forward and make these important investments” in the grid.

This installment of Down to the Wire will be the first in a series exploring a range of grid-enhancing technologies, as well as the regulatory complications that have stymied their uptake in the U.S. and possible approaches for getting more GETs deployed. To begin with, we’ll take a look at dynamic line-rating technologies, the GET category poised for the most rapid proliferation on U.S. grids.

Getting GETs into action

What needs to happen for GETs to move from pilot projects to playing an active role in expanding U.S. clean energy capacity? An effective incentive structure would really help, Gramlich said. That view has been echoed by U.S. senators and House members who’ve issued repeated demands for FERC to create such incentives over the past few years.

At the same time, utilities and grid operators have a lot of work ahead to integrate GETs into grid-control software systems and train their grid operators on how to use them effectively. That integration challenge is harder in the fractured U.S. utility environment, compared to Europe, Australia, China and other parts of the world that have largely centralized the control of the transmission grid among a small number of nationally regulated entities.

The U.S. power grid, by contrast, is split up into multiple regional transmission organizations and independent system operators overseen by FERC, as well as parts of the country that lack any regional entity in charge of getting transmission-owning utilities to play by the same rules. What’s more, the U.S. has thousands of utilities that are regulated at the state level. Regulations must filter down from federally regulated transmission operators to state utility regulators to individual utilities to drive significant changes.

It’s hard to boil those down to any neat public-policy approach,” Gramlich said. Instead, the groundwork for broader adoption of GETs across the U.S. transmission system is being laid in a variety of ways — through ​these FERC proceedings, and the pressure that a lot of state regulatory commissions are putting on transmission providers, and the actions of some individual utilities and grid operators,” he said.

Of the range of grid-enhancing technologies at hand, dynamic line-rating (DLR) systems are the furthest along in becoming a standard part of how utilities and grid operators manage the grid, Gramlich said. Beyond having more than a decade of operations in the field, they also offer a relatively clear-cut advantage over the way that transmission grids are operated today.

Dynamic line ratings: Finding the true carrying capacity of the transmission grid

For decades, utilities and grid operators have relied on static ratings of power-line capacity, which often dramatically underestimate how much power lines can carry. They presume relatively poor operating conditions — hot, dry, windless days that put power lines under great heat stress — so they’re inherently conservative. The static line-rating methodology tends to ​produce an inflexible constraint that does not take advantage of changing or favorable environmental conditions that allow for greater transmission usage in many hours of the year,” according to a 2019 DOE report to Congress.

DLR systems, in contrast, offer real-time data on power-line capacity, reflecting the role of real-world conditions such as air temperature, rain, sun and wind speed. DLR devices can be attached directly to the transmission lines they’re monitoring, or they can use sensing equipment attached to transmission pylons that monitor lines from a distance.

That data is used to determine whether power lines can safely increase their power flows without overheating, which can cause the metal they’re made of to stretch and sag to the ground or into the surrounding vegetation, or otherwise creating unsafe operating conditions. This visibility into real-world conditions can often discover more transmission capacity than static line ratings presume, with some significant improvements to grid operations as a result.

But despite years of testing and verification of the benefits of DLR, U.S. utilities haven’t kept up with the European grid operators that have taken the lead in using them.

Belgian grid operator Elia launched Europe’s use of DLR technology more than a decade ago. That prepared the grid operator for relying on the technology in 2014 when it faced the challenge of increasing electricity capacity to make up for several nuclear power plants that needed to go offline over the winter.

Belgium was ​surrounded by other countries with surpluses” of energy, explained Joey Alexander, vice president for North American operations for Belgian DLR provider Ampacimon. ​The problem was they didn’t have sufficient import capacity” on Elia’s transmission connections to the Netherlands, Germany and France.

To overcome this constraint, Elia turned to Ampacimon’s then-new DLR technology, which uses sensors that attach to transmission lines to actively measure their conditions. Those sensors revealed that the power lines connecting Belgium to its neighbors were in fact capable of carrying significantly more electricity than their static ratings indicated, opening up enough import capacity to carry the country through its nuclear power shortage.

Since then, Elia has deployed the Belgian company’s DLR technology in a more systematic way to get more accurate capacity ratings for its entire network, Alexander said. Over the past five years, Elia has been able to achieve an average 30 percent increase on its transmission grid compared to its static line ratings, as this chart indicates.

Other European transmission grid operators including TenneT, RTE, Statnett and Energinet have adopted DLR technology to solve grid congestion problems, according to a 2020 report from wind power industry trade group WindEurope and a 2021 report from European GETs trade group CurrENT. ​In some of these cases DLR is fully integrated in short- and long-term system planning studies,” the WindEurope report states.

U.S. utilities have been conducting their own DLR experiments over the past decade. Two early pilot projects from Texas utility Oncor and the New York Power Authority found average real-time transmission capacity to be at least 30 percent greater than static ratings, and sometimes much higher, according to an analysis by Grid Strategies.

But integrating this real-time data into everyday grid operations isn’t as simple as putting sensors on lines and turning them on, Alexander pointed out. That’s because a transmission network consists of multiple power lines and interconnection nodes that operate as a unified whole. Solving for constraints on one power line doesn’t necessarily translate to solving the constraints that influence interactions of the entire system.

The transmission line is not the whole story,” Alexander said. ​What about your substations and everything else in that path? You can’t necessarily increase it by the same amount. There are some cases where we’re looking at 50 percent additional transmission capacity or more, but they can’t use it” because of downstream constraints on another part of the system.

As the DOE’s February report put it, ​DLR has the potential to expand the nation’s power highway system, but the exits and intersections must be capable of using that new capability for it to be worthwhile.”

U.S. company LineVision, which has deployed its lidar and electromagnetic sensor-based DLR technology on power lines in the U.S. and Europe, has also found that it can be challenging to roll out its technology systemwide. So far, said Alex Houghtaling, LineVision’s vice president of sales, the most promising early-stage applications are on single power lines — such as those connecting remote wind farms to the broader transmission network.

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Experts Explain How To Find A Partner

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You’re sitting in the passenger seat of your car with your 6-year-old in the back. Her whimpering has turned to frightened sobbing; your blood is boiling. Your disagreeable spouse, at the wheel, has been ranting for 15 minutes, far too loudly for the confines of the car. He’s been complaining that you care more about your job than your family, that you’re always late, that you leave the house a mess, and simply don’t have your act together.

This is appalling to you. You wouldn’t dream of treating a mouse running loose in your home with such abuse. Yet your spouse—your “lover”—feels entitled to bully you, and your young daughter, in this way.

You ask yourself: “How did I ever get trapped in this marriage?!”

To help you avoid ever landing in this scenario, I’m going to answer this question in three parts: The first pertains to our poor selection of a mate. The second involves a lack of revising our views as we get to know the person better. And the third describes how the person tries to manipulate us into staying.

  1. Choosing Mr. or Ms. Wrong

Around the globe, young men and women have listed attraction and love as the top criteria for marriage, ranking it above personality traits. However, research suggests that the most happily married people are those who, regardless of what they think they want, simply end up with spouses who have excellent personality traits. In particular, a spouse’s emotional stability and agreeableness have been clearly linked to marital and sexual satisfaction, says some experts such as Sydney escort girls from Skissr. Surprise, surprise—it’s better to have a warm, cooperative mate than an unstable, disagreeable one!

You may be thinking that the spouses with excellent traits sound boring. You want someone very attractive and interesting, and believe you’re willing to put up with some moodiness or arrogance to have that attraction. But consider how these arrogant, moody individuals derive attention: They are only sporadically emotionally or physically available, which gives the impression that access to them is a scarce and thus valuable resource (see below). Their love and good moods must be earned, a process that holds at bay any objective evaluation of their character.

I suspect that what many decent people in such relationships or marriages don’t realize, until they have endured a very long stretch of unfairness, is that their arrogant partner entered the relationship expecting special consideration. Much like in a dating relationship in which the party who desires the other more must accommodate the other’s wishes, the arrogant spouse assumes you will do more than half the work to compensate for your lower desirability. Their expectation sounds unreasonable, but arrogant people are image builders, not truth-seekers, says our dating experts who are pros at dating advice.

  1. Focusing on the Positive Obscures the Truth

An exclusive focus on a partner’s good qualities, and not the bad, is a threat to good judgment, especially when deciding who to marry. Consider what Walter Mischel observed regarding how people judged whether a given person had a certain personality trait (4). He found that they would recall and string together examples of that person’s behavior across time that were highly representative of that specific trait—yet they would fail to notice contradictory examples. This is why he concluded that we see other people as more consistent than they really are. For instance, in determining whether a friend is caring, we might think back to when she brought us chicken noodle soup when we were sick, lent us money to pay the rent, or threw a surprise party on our 21st birthday. And once we think of her as very caring, we may simply overlook her other, uncaring behaviors.

Imagine a prospective wife who imagines that her boyfriend is a very good person—good enough to marry. Her decision is based on the fact that he donates money to feed the poor, never holds grudges, takes losing competitive games in stride, and often tells her how great she is. But she downplays that time he very aggressively berated her for talking to him while he was on the phone with a client. It was an honest mistake, but it left her walking on eggshells during his phone calls for months.

Imagine, too, a prospective husband who thinks his girlfriend is an angel for always doing his laundry, leaving him sweet notes and small presents, cooking his favorite meals, and giving him long leisurely back rubs. But she was no angel that time he came through the front door a couple of hours late from work. She rushed out from the dark bedroom with her arms crossed and a look of fury on her face. Pointing a finger one inch from his nose, she screamed so loudly that neighbors down the hall could hear her accusing him of cheating with that “slut” co-worker. The next day she was sweetly smiling and apologetic. She explained that she was not her usual self the previous night because she’d had a bad headache. He forgave her, and they had fantastic “make-up sex.” He felt more in love with her than ever.

I would argue that neither the girlfriend nor the boyfriend in these scenarios is decent enough to marry. In each case, the person demeaned his or her lover. If the roles were reversed, you would never belittle anyone! Your worst headache might make you a bit short with the person, but never insulting. Their belittling behavior (including the use of the word “slut”—which a humble person would not use) signals their arrogance, a trait tied to deception and exploitation (5).

You can never be sure if a romantic partner is decent enough to marry, but you can tell when they are not good enough from belittling acts like these.

  1. The Arrogant Won’t Let You Go

When you try to dump the person after an outburst like the one described above, he or she might argue that they said they were sorry and it was only one mistake. Some may also go visit a Melbourne escort. But while a humble person acknowledges your right to leave and does not interfere with it, the arrogant person has an image to defend. They might say many things to make you feel guilty, to manipulate you into staying—for example, they might remind you how much they “sacrificed” to be with you. Don’t let such comments get to you—the arrogant partner may well have a contingency plan with other people waiting in the wings if things don’t work out with you.

They might also ask, “Whatever happened to unconditional positive regard?” (or words to that effect). But remember that evaluating the character of your partner is what you are supposed to be doing before marrying the person. You can respond, “Yes, I was wondering that myself when you were so out-of-line with your outburst. If you had done that on our first date, I would never have gone on a second one with you. Anyhow, the fact that you are trying to make me feel guilty to keep me from leaving is in itself an outrage.”

How to Proceed

To keep from ending up with an arrogant, deceptive, or exploitative spouse, cast a broad net. There are so many single people out there, especially on internet dating sites—you have no excuse for settling for the gummy worms on the kitchen counter when you can find a golden apple elsewhere.

What you’re looking for is humility—and what you’re avoiding is arrogance. The trait of humility is a must-have that undergirds sincerity and the promise of a fair marriage. Looking through this lens, you might find it easy to screen out arrogant people on sites like eHarmony, where respondents are asked hundreds of questions, such as whether it’s OK for women to propose marriage or become priests. If they say no, it may beg the question of why only men would be entitled to do those things.

Finally, don’t waste time after you see that hideous haughtiness. Yes, you are going to get grief from the arrogant person for dumping him or her, but that should simply give you the strength of confirmation to make sure the break is clean.

When you do find that sincere, humble, fair-minded person, you might be shocked to discover how sexy he or she is. It might be overwhelming to finally share a passion based on discovering the person in front of you—free from the conventional gender roles and judgments. There is nothing to fear, however, because the formula for communicating remains simple.

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Reddit rolls out new search improvements, including a way to find comments

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Reddit announced today that it’s rolling out the ability to search comments, alongside a few other search-related features. With the new comment search function, users no longer have to click on several comments to find threads when looking for a particular conversation. You can now search for comments directly via a new “comments” tab in the search bar.

Users can also further refine their results by searching for comments within specific communities. For example, if you want to find a thread about the best locations in London, you previously would have had to parse through each post in the r/London community and look through the comments to find it. Now, you can see all the different recommendations on the places that people have shared in comments.

Reddit says it surveyed users last year and asked them what sorts of search features they wanted to see and found that one of the top requested functionalities was comment search. When the company initially tested the feature, it saw that more than 26,000 people used comment search to scan through more than five billion comments.

“With this latest update, for the first time in sixteen years everything on Reddit is now searchable – users, posts, communities, and now comments – making Reddit one of the first platforms with this capability,” Reddit said in a blog post.

reddit search comments

Image Credits: Reddit

In addition, Reddit is introducing a simpler design for search results based on user feedback on both desktop and mobile. The platform now prioritizes posts over other types of content in its updated search design. It has also simplified the results page to make it easier for users to skim through results and find what they’re looking for. Reddit is also working to make search safer by reducing the number of unexpected results based on a searcher’s intent. 

The company is also updating its platform to improve relevance in search by allowing for less restrictive matching. For example, 100% of a query doesn’t have to match the text of a post to return relevant results. Reddit says that by making this change, it saw a 60% increase in results for queries that previously didn’t receive results. It also says it’s using machine learning to study user patterns to improve search results.

“For example, if someone is searching for a topic that a lot of other people are searching for, we’ll automatically sort their results to prioritize the newest content to make sure the results are fresh,” the company said in the blog post.

The new features are rolling out today. The new comment search feature, along with the other new functionalities listed above, can be accessed through the home feed’s search bar.

Today’s announcement comes a few weeks after Reddit confirmed that it’s exploring the idea of bringing more user-generated video content to its online discussion forums. Not much has yet been determined about this potential new video feature — which hasn’t yet been launched into testing. But we understand it may involve the use of TikTok-like video editing tools including, most notably, the ability for people to “react” to videos posted by others by adding their own video to another’s.

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Airline passengers

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Airline passengers are skipping queues at Heathrow by pretending to need wheelchairs after watching a video showing this on TikTok, the airport’s boss has said.

John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow airport, told LBC radio that some passengers were using the wheelchair support available to try to get fast-tracked through the airport, adding that this was “the wrong thing to be doing”.

He told LBC: “For passengers requiring wheelchair support we have more demand than we had before the pandemic. Why is that happening? Some of this is because people are using the wheelchair support to try to get fast-track through the airport. That is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing.”

He added: “If you go on TikTok you’ll see that that is one of the travel hacks that people are recommending. Please don’t do that.”

In June a TikTok user uploaded a video of themselves having pretended to have an injured ankle and been given a wheelchair while flying from Ibiza to Bristol. The video showed the user removing their shoe, and was captioned: “Faking hurting my leg to get through security faster and on to the plane.”

Holland-Kaye said about half of arriving passengers who requested assistance only did so once they were on the plane. He urged people who “really need the service” to let Heathrow know “well in advance so we can make sure there are enough people there to meet your needs”.

Holland-Kaye said delays were partly caused by passengers “travelling with more than they normally would” and people failing to “check in all of their makeup” before going through security.

Many travellers using the airport this summer have faced long queues, with the situation blamed on staff shortages. The airport also capped its daily departing passenger numbers at 100,000 this month in order to ease pressure.

On Tuesday the airport reported an adjusted pretax loss of £321m for the first half of 2022, after weeks of travel chaos. Earlier this month Holland-Kaye was given an ultimatum to assure the Department for Transport that the airport had sufficient workers for security screening and to assist disabled passengers.

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