How Weather Changes Influence Energy Demands and an Electrician’s Work

As we learn more about how to harness natural phenomenon to generate power and electricity, the weather is no longer simply a filler for polite conversation. The impact of weather not only on power generation and energy supply but also on how the weather can disrupt electrical services, can certainly lead to more interesting and in-depth conversation.

One part of Earth Observation is the surveying of natural weather phenomena such as temperatures, winds, and rains. And when you’re working with a naturally occurring energy source like solar, wind, or hydropower energies, weather does determine, to a large extent, how efficient the energy generation will be.

The renewable energy industry, though far preferred by many as an energy source for being clean and sustainable, is still notoriously unreliable precisely because it is still so strongly affected by the weather. And while we may not be able to control the weather, our ability to predict what the weather will be like can go a long way in long-term planning and strategies in the renewable energy sector. Of course, many will say that not even the best weatherman can predict the weather with 100% accuracy, but with the increasing developments in our surveying technology in the Earth Observation field, we can come pretty close.

There are at least three ways by which weather changes can influence the electricity industry:

  • Weather can impact power generation

winter

As already stated, when you’re working with naturally occurring, renewable energy sources, how the weather is like at any given season can directly affect the efficiency of power generation using these alternative energy sources.

This is why the ability to predict weather has been in such high demand among the power sector. Data gleaned about the weather from Earth Observation has already gone a long way in determining the growth of the renewable energy sector because it has determined the optimal locations which would allow for maximum output of energy production, whether you are dealing with solar, wind, or hydro technology. And even then, unpredictable weather conditions may still happen, and can still have a significant impact on power generation. Heat waves, heavy rainfall, typhoons, tidal waves, snowfall – all these affect the very availability of these renewable energy sources, and also our ability to utilize them.

If you are a homeowner investing in solar paneling installation right at your home, you might want to consult with a properly-trained electrician – not only for the installation of the solar technology but also to help set your expectations as to the volume of energy you will be able to generate. Solar power, for instance, can be notoriously vulnerable to weather changes, and the efficiency of its power generation can be so intermittent that you might want to keep alternative energy sources open, in addition to solar power, just to be safe.

  • Weather affects energy and electricity demand

storm

Weather also has a significant effect on seasonal demands for electricity and actual energy use. The impact that weather has on energy use and electricity depend, however, to a large extent, on building types, building efficiency, and location. Buildings and the power consumption and energy performance of each, not just for lighting and electricity usage, but also for temperature regulation, are some of the greatest consumers of our energy supply. And how buildings consume power and electricity are also largely determined by weather conditions.

Seasonal changes and the resulting changes in the weather affect us human beings directly, as well as our basic needs for heat, light, cool temperatures, and ventilation, among others. Weather can also determine when electricity demand is at its peak, as well as the times of greatest energy usage.

  • Weather greatly impacts an electrician’s job

Perhaps the most obvious effect of unpredictable weather in the energy sector is power outages. These may result from damage to the electrical connections and distributions system, where, for instance, electrical poles and electrical wires and cables may be compromised by severe weather conditions such as storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, or just simply excessive winds and rains. Many electricians will tell you that one of the most traditional, and certainly dangerous, part of their job is being out in the field in unfavorable weather conditions, all the while working with electrical wiring and live wires.

But even without power outages, weather already goes a long way in impacting an electrician’s job. There are the demands for checking and maintenance of air conditioning and heating units when the weather demands either one. Sometimes, an electrician’s work can be as basic as replacing worn or damaged wiring and sockets or checking and maintaining a building’s electrical system, from its power supply, lighting and alarm systems, to its centralized heating and cooling technologies. As the energy and power industry begins to grow more competitive, it moves away from being a public utility to an open and competitive private market, especially with the influx of private energy providers working with renewable energy sources. Their ability to deliver quality service in terms of customer service and quick responsive electrical work to customer demands can mean that the weather determines not just power supply, but also who gets to keep supplying the market.

How Earth Observation Can Help Boost the Electric and Power Industry

With the growth of worldwide investments developing renewable energy sources, an increasing percentage of the world’s energy supply is sourced from these naturally occurring and renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro technology.

These renewable energy sources are naturally occurring, and naturally replenishing. But because they are natural sources, natural phenomenon can still have a great impact on solar, wind and wave energy. Earth Observation can help in the management of this energy sector by contributing crucial information to help us maximize the energy yields from these resources.

pv panels

For instance, there are global sunshine maps that provide information regarding solar irradiance and average cloudiness, and this information can help pinpoint the optimal sites for solar energy harvesting. The same can be said for wind atlases supplying information on which sites can be considered as more productive wind farms; and information on the movement of sea currents and eddies to provide information in the development of hydropower technology.

At this point, the demand for electricity and power still far outweighs the energy-generating capacity of our renewable energy technology. But while the potential for developing and harnessing these energy sources is considerable, there is still the one important factor of unpredictability.

Sunlight, wind, and hydropower are naturally occurring, renewable, and free to use, but being part of the natural world, they are also subject to natural phenomenon –  something that has never been within man’s control. In practical terms, this means that these kinds of renewable energy sources will never be controlled so as to meet peak power demand as needed. Energy production from these sources is still intermittent, and unless we can come up with efficient storage for the energy generated from these energy sources, these natural renewable energy sources will never be primary sources of energy. They will always need to be supplemented by other energy sources if electricity demands are to be met.

powerlines

As it is, Earth Observation data is the closest we can get to maximizing the yield from these renewable energy sources. And as our in situ and remote sensing technologies allow us to refine our observational and surveying techniques, the better we can also optimize our use of renewable energy sources. Not only can we identify the optimal locations for solar and wind energy converters, but we may also be able to predict wind strength and solar insolation over a period of time.

There has been a global shift towards renewable energy sources, and significant effort is being put into the development of technology that would allow us to efficiently utilize these naturally occurring energy sources. Much of the infrastructure is already in place, as well as the services required as Stamford electricians gear up for providing electrical service specific to these renewable energy sources. The outlook is good for this energy sector, and with EO, increasingly better in the future.

Electricians Exploring Renewable Energy Sources

Earth Observation or EO is a term used to refer to any form of data gathering about the earth, whether it be the earth’s physical, chemical or biological systems. While mankind has always been observant of his natural surroundings, recent technological developments in surveying, remote sensing, and sometimes just physical observations, as well as the growing concern of the impact of human activities on the earth, Earth Observation or EO has now become a global movement. And one significance of EO is its contribution to efforts towards sustainable development through the management of natural resources, including the exploration and monitoring of renewable energy sources.

wind turbine

The need for sustainable development is necessitated by the growing world population, now numbering somewhere around seven billion, all living on a planet with limited resources. Power and energy are in high demand; hence the need to shift to alternative energy sources that are also renewable has become imperative.

Some of the renewable energy sources currently available to mankind are solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power. These are naturally occurring sources of energy that are also capable of becoming naturally replenished. In short, they are not finite in supply, unlike other energy sources such as fossil fuels, coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. And because these alternative and renewable sources of energy are naturally occurring, they are heavily influenced by weather and climate conditions, which makes the data gathered by EO so significant to the energy sector which seeks to work with these kinds of renewable energy sources.

solar panels

At present, the world’s energy supply still relies heavily on natural gas, coal, nuclear power, and petroleum, but renewable energy sources are slowly gaining a large percentage of this total. In 2013, only about 14% of the energy utilized was sourced from renewable energy sources. This number has since climbed to nearly one third in 2016. And these numbers are steadily growing as the output of renewable energy sources have also begun to grow. We are becoming more adept at managing these kinds of energy sources, which makes it important for electricians to begin expanding their skill set and experience to include training, education, and experience in power sourced from these renewable energy sources, the most common of which now include solar and wind energy. And because of the peculiar nature of these kinds of natural energy sources, electricians that seek to work with these kinds of renewable energy sources must also be, whether formally or informally, also part of and contributors to Earth Observation.

An Electrician’s Tips for Electrical Safety in Extreme Weather Conditions

For electricians, electrical safety is a must. Basic electrical safety can be undertaken through some basic steps such as regular checking and maintenance of electrical systems and wiring, avoiding overloading of sockets, using the right equipment in suitable conditions, and the immediate repair of damaged wires or other electrical equipment.

Sometimes, however, even the most well-maintained electrical system can become dangerous in extreme weather conditions. Water and electricity make for a deadly combination, and there are numerous weather changes that might bring electricity and water together unless safety measures are undertaken. Whether you are dealing with rain, storms, typhoons, hurricanes, or earthquakes, extreme caution should always be taken when dealing with electric cables or electric connections that may become damaged as a result.

Still, experiencing unpredictable weather conditions means that we never know when we might experience the possibility of electrocution in unsafe weather. In this article, we look at some basic electrical safety tips from professional electricians when it comes to dealing with electricity in extreme weather conditions.

  • In preparing for a storm, pack up electrical equipment and any outdoor appliance and store them in a dry and safe place
  • Always stay updated with weather updates by listening to local radio stations or other forms of news dissemination
  • Know where the power can be turned off in case of an emergency. You might want to label circuits properly so that you can cut the power immediately in case an emergency arises.
  • If you are expecting floodwaters, move electrical equipment to a higher area. If the ground is wet, never use electrical equipment in your yard or anywhere where it can get wet.
  • Stay away from power lines, but report any fallen or damaged power lines immediately
  • If there is a power outage, or if you’ve lost power at your home, unplug all electrical appliances and equipment
  • If you have a solar power generating, system, stay away from it, including the solar panels and its cables.
  • If you are expecting an electrical storm, install surge protectors, unplug all electrical equipment, stay away from windows and doors, trees, and water, including plumbing such as sinks, faucets, and baths
  • When expecting a storm, make sure that the nearby trees do not have heavy branches overhanging overhead powerlines. You might want to call your local electric company to trim trees that could potentially damage nearby powerlines
  • If you are expecting a thunderstorm, head indoors. If you are caught outdoors during a thunderstorm, avoid high places, and stay away from tall, isolated trees.

forest fire

  • During the wintertime, people’s usage of electricity and electrical equipment rises, and the likelihood of electrical fires and electrocution also rises. The majority of home fires are caused by heating equipment, the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. Always make sure to purchase heating equipment that has been tested for safety, and read the instructions and warning labels carefully. Do not use if it has any cracks, loose connections or frayed wiring, and never leave it unattended. Turn it off when you are leaving the room. And never place heating equipment near combustible items. You might also want to install fire alarms so that you can catch fires early before too much damage is done.
  • If you are using standby generators during a power outage, always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them carefully. Never use one unless you have a working transfer switch. This prevents electricity from back-feeding into power lines, which could be dangerous for linemen working on repairing fallen powerlines.

lightning

  • Use weatherproof covers for outdoor electrical outlets. Use GFCIs or ground-fault circuit interrupters, whether for outdoor or indoor electrical outlets. Make sure your GFCIs have been tested and are properly working.
  • If you are actually experiencing pleasant weather conditions that seem perfect for outdoor activities, stay away from power lines. Don’t climb trees that are near power lines, don’t throw any object up onto powerlines, and don’t attempt to retrieve anything that might be hanging from a power line.

 

The bottom line is, it is always prudent to practice electrical safety, but even more so when we are experiencing extreme weather conditions like winter, rainstorms, thunderstorms, flooding, or even the intense heat of summer. The most important safety tip of all is never to handle electrical work yourself. Always call an electrician because they have the necessary training and experience to deal with the dangers of electrical work. But if you are caught up in an emergency situation and the professional services of an electrician is not readily available, arm yourself with the safety tips outlined above.

As a basic rule, avoid going near a place that is dangerous and which might be prone to electric currents. Always assume that any power lines and wet electric cables are live and dangerous.

If you can do so safely, turn off the power. Know which areas are safe and not safe during thunderstorms. Even if the dangers are from naturally occurring electricity, and not electricity that comes from a power cable or a socket, the dangers are no less real.