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Amusement parks such as Luna Park and Dreamland at Coney Island in New York drew millions of paying visitors to admire the architectural sculptures of light. Edison's incandescent lamp was a trifle inferior to the arc in light quality and efficiency but was immensely more practical. Symbolically, in the New York Stock Exchange installed three large "electro-liers," new chande- liers with sixty-six electric lamps each, above the main trading floor. The exhibi- tion of the power to break the night came first and dramatically. Penetration of the technology came later and, as usual, slowly.

US cities, as shown earlier, achieved full illumination only about The period from to can be called a period of consolidated light. Lamps became brighter and efficiency rose. To the human eye, the quality of the light may actually have worsened with the spread of fluorescents. With laser light, which has terrible visual quality now, we may approach theoretical effi- ciency, though actual lasers remain inefficient. Will that be the light at the end of the tunnel? To return to basics, we illuminate in order to see in the dark. Illumination has no value if nobody looks.

Arriving in a town at night, we always see the roads brightly lit and empty, so we know of waste. The marvels of the s, electronic sensors and computer chips, can already scan rooms and streets and switch the lights off if no one is present. The watt-watch can help, but we can go further. Sophisticated weapons systems those mounted in helicopters, for ex- ample feel the thumb of the pilot, observe his eyes, and shoot where he looks.

A camera-computer in a room can watch the eyes of people present and illuminate only what they watch. Phased arrays, familiar in sonars and radars and developed now for infrared emitters, are certainly transportable into the visible range and can create sets of beams that are each directed to a chosen point or following a calculated track.

The apparatus might now look baroque, but with miniaturization it could be concealed in a disk hanging from the ceiling of a room. Such a gadget appears to be the supreme fulfillment, illuminating an object only if a human gazes upon it. But recall again that the objective is not to illuminate but to see. We illumi- nate because the eye has a lower limit of light sensitivity and, in any case, operating near such a limit is unpleasant. The military has developed complicated gadgets by which scanty photons from a poorly illuminated target are multiplied electronically to produce an image of sufficient luminosity.

The principle is good; the machine is primitive. If photons flowing in an energized medium such. We could throw away all sorts of illuminating devices. A few milliwatts of power would be enough to brighten the night. Efficient Warmth The largest part of energy consumed in the home is used for temperature control. Space heating accounts for 60 percent or more of total residential energy use in many developed countries. Heating a home is a notably inelegant process from a thermodynamic point of view.

Heat pumps solve the problem conceptu- ally, but they see temperatures inside their heat exchangers and consequently overwork. Consider a radically different proposal. Windows are the big leaks, even when the glazing is sophisticated and expensive. Why not use window panes as thermoelectric devices, not to carry heat uphill but to stop heat from sledding downhill, that is, as heat-flux stopping devices? Thermoelectric generators are usually seen as machines to make electricity by using the principle of the thermocouple.

However, the device is reversible: by passing electricity through the machine, heat can be moved uphill. Several de- cades ago refrigerators were proposed using this principle on the basis of its great simplicity, although efficiencies are low. The old scheme for refrigerators could be revised in view of new thermoelectric materials and given suitably competi- tive objectives. The basic idea is that electrodes on the inner and outer surfaces of the windowpanes can be made of conductive, transparent glasses.

Glass made of zinc oxide might be sufficiently conductive. Voltages across the glass would be very low volts or fractions of volts. Holding a temperature differential with zero flux would be more efficient energetically than putting heat electrically! Electric Motion So far we have looked at examples where efficiency wins, and net demand for power grows, only if the human population and its use of devices increase faster than efficiency.

Now let us look at one example where a large new market might emerge, matching the ultra-high voltage lines and continental connections. Toward the end of the last century electric motors for vehicle engines at- tracted much inventive action. Edison and Ferdinand Porsche produced sophisti. The idea flopped on the roads but succeeded on the rails. Electric trams clamored through American and European cities, helped create suburbs, and in some cases connected cities. After most of the system was rapidly dismantled, largely because the trams could not match buses and cars in flexibility or speed.

The mean velocity of transport keeps increasing through the progressive substitution of old technologies with new, faster ones.

Economic Schools of Thought: Crash Course Economics #14

For France, the increase in the average speed of all machine transport has been about 3 percent per year during the last two centuries. Urban and suburban railways have a mean speed of only about 25 kilometers per hour, including stops. Cars have a mean speed on short distance trips of about 40 kilometers per hour. The latest in the series are airplanes, with a mean speed of kilometers per hour. Airplanes will provide most of the increase in mean speed over the next fifty years. Electric trains succeeded in Europe and Japan for the densely trafficked lines and still operate today.

They have decent acceleration and speed compared with diesels. But most trains are not fast; the inclusive travel time on intercity rail journeys is only about 60 kilometers per hour. The fastest trains, the French trains a grande vitesse TGVs , are electric. The question for trains is how to compete with cars on one side and with airplanes on the other. Electricity prob- ably cannot compete with hydrogen for propulsion of cars and other light ve hicles.

The great market challenge for the current generation of fast trains, with top speeds of kilometers per hour, is the short distances of less than kilome- ters along which cars congest and airplanes cannot compete. The present configu- ration of airports and airplanes are high-speed but low-flux machines. TGVs could prove extremely competitive in the intense shuffling of commuters and shoppers within these distances.

A cursory review of Europe reveals about 5, kilometers of intercity links fitting the constraints of a kilometer distance and high potential passenger flux. Fast trains consume more or less the same amount of primary energy per seat-kilometer as a turboprop planets or a compact car.

From the power point of view, a running TGV absorbs about 10 kilowatts per seat. The mean power demand of the proposed 5,kilometer system of TGV trains for commuters and shoppers would be around 6 gigawatts, with a peak of probably 10 gigawatts. If the concept is successful, this form of transport will be an important consumer of electricity, but it will take at least fifty years to become fully implemented. To go to very high passenger fluxes over longer distances, one would need to go to aerial configurations of which even the most daring air-transport planners do not chance to dream: flocks of airplanes of five thousand passengers each taking off and landing together like migrating birds.

For intense connections linking large cities with peak fluxes around ten thousand passengers per hour, a solution is emerging that matches system re- quirements: the magnetically levitated maglev train operating in a partially evacuated tube or tunnel. In fact, Swiss engineers have developed the concept of. To handle the shock wave from a high-speed train, a tunnel normally needs a cross section about ten times that of the train.

In addition to narrowing greatly the tunneling requirement, the partial vacuum greatly reduces friction, making speed cheap and thus expanding the operational range of the train. When operated at constant acceleration- for example, 5 meters per second or 0. Consequently, daily commuting and shopping become fea- sible. Such daily trips account for 90 percent of all travel and are controlled by the total human time budget for travel of about one hour per day. With fast, short trips cities can coalesce in functional clusters of continental size. City pairs spaced less than kilometers or ten minutes apart by maglevs, such as Bonn- Berlin, Milan-Rome, Tokyo-Osaka, and New York-Washington, would espe- cially benefit.

Part of the energy consumption of vacuum maglevs overcomes residual fric- tion; an economic balance must be struck between the friction losses and the pumping power to keep the vacuum. Part regenerates the electromagnetic system that pushes and pulls the trains. The great advantage of the constant acceleration configuration for maglevs is that the energy required for each length of track is constant and could be stored, perhaps magnetically, in the track itself. Power demand is proportional to train speed and moves into the gigawatt range in the central section; however, with local storage a few kilowatt hours per meter the external electric power net- works would see only the need to make up losses.

Even assuming percent efficiency, these would not be negligible. One hundred trains per hour would demand 1 gigawatt for the single line on which they operated. The first long-distance maglev will probably run in about five to ten years. Berlin-Hamburg is under construction. The penetration of the technology will be gradual, as major infrastructural technologies always are. In fact, the next fifty years will probably be used largely to establish the feasibility, chart the maglev map, and prepare for the big push in the second half of the twenty-first century.

In the long run, maglevs may establish several thousand kilometers of lines and become one of the most important users of electricity. A maglev trip per day becomes a few thousand kilowatt hours per year per person. If India and Eastern China join life in this superfast lane, the picture of a globally integrated, high- capacity electrical system begins to cohere.

Our examples suggest this is true for the United States and globally. Two waves of electrification have passed through our societies. In the first, the United States attained system saturation in the s at about 1, kilowatt hours annual consumption per residential customer, gigawatt hours of total annual use, 40 gigawatts of installed capacity, and 20 percent of primary fuels producing electricity. In the second wave, we have reached 10, kilowatt hours per residential customer, 3, gigawatt hours of total use, gigawatts of installed capacity, and about 40 percent of fuels producing electricity.

The fact that the patterns of temporal diffusion and growth are followed makes it possible to fit dynamic equations to the time series of facts and then compare them for consistency. This operation indicates that the s are the season of saturation, which includes the experience of overcapacity or, alter- nately, underconsumption. Such phases are not uncommon for various branches of the industrial system, as managers tend to assume that growth characteristics of boom periods will extend into recessions, while consumers cut corners. In the short term, total energy and electric energy consumption may continue to grow at a slower rate than overall economic activity.

One interpretation is that during the expansion period of the long cycles the objective is growth, while during the recessive period the objective is to compete, shaving costs here and there and streamlining production. The savings include energy. Meeting goals pertaining to environmental quality and safety further tighten the system. A new cycle formally beginning in started the game again, although the effects of the restart will not be particularly visible for a few years.

Minima are flat. Looking at the cycles from a distance to grasp the general features, one sees the periods around their ends as revolutionary, that is, periods of reorganiza- tion-political, social, industrial, and institutional. We are evidently at this con- junction, and the electrical system will not escape it. When the electrical system served the village, a complete vertical integration was inevitable.

Regional coverage, the preferred scale of the past fifty years, also favored such integration. With the expansion to continental dimensions, a shift in responsibilities may make the system more efficient, agile, and manageable. The typical division is production, trunk-line transport, and retailing, with different organizations taking care of the pieces and the market joining them. The experi- ments in this sense now running in Great Britain, Australia, and other countries can be used as a test bed to develop the winning ideas.

Apart from various economic advantages and organizational complications, the use of splicers on a large scale untried to date may bring an almost abso. The electrical system should also become cleaner, as it intertwines more closely with natural gas and probably nuclear energy, thus furthering decarbonization. A sequence of technical barriers will appear, and thus the pro- cess of systematic research and innovation will continue to be needed; it will produce timely results. In fact, our analyses suggest that rates of growth of technology tend to be self-consistent more than bound to population dynamics.

Population, however, defines the size of the niche in the final instance. Thus a key question is, how long will it take to diffuse Western electric gadgetry to the 90 percent of the world that is not already imbued with it? The gadgetry keeps increasing. Followers keep following, if more closely. Based on historical experience, diffusion to distant corners requires fifty to one hundred years.

Even within America or Europe, as we have seen, pervasive diffusion takes that long for major technologies. So most people may have to wait for most of the next century to experience nightglasses, splicers, and maglevs. These devices may be largely features of a fourth wave of electrification, while the spread of the profusion of information-handling devices dominates the third wave that is now beginning. Considered over centuries and millennia, the electrical adventure is deeper than a quest for gadgets. In Volta demonstrated that the electric force observed by Luigi Galvani in twitching frog legs was not connected with living creatures, but could be obtained whenever two different metals are placed in a conducting fluid.

Today we use electricity to dissolve the difference between inanimate and living objects and to control and inspire the inanimate with more delicacy than Dr. Introducing electricity into production raised the rank of workers from sweating robots to robot controllers. The process can be generalized, with humanity at leisure or at work giving orders to its machines by voice or a wink of the eye. This ancient aspiration for action at a distance and direct command over the inanimate will drive invention, innovation, and diffu- sion for hundreds of years more; we come full circle to the electron of the ancient Hebrews and Greeks.

NOTES 1. For general histories of electrification, see Hirsch , Hughes , Nye ,. For data and information on the early history of energy and electricity, see Schilling and Hildebrandt Such diffusive processes are well fit by the logistic equation, which represents simply and effectively the path of a population growing to a limit that is some function of the population itself.

For discussion of applications of logistics, see Nakicenovid and Grubler On the basic model, see Kingsland US generating capacity was GW in For an analysis of electricity projections, see Nelson et al. Sulfur and other emissions from power plants also cause ills, but these have proven to be largely tractable see Nakicenovic, this volume. While Carnot efficiency now about 60 percent limits heat cycles, fuel cells do not face such a limitation, as they are not based on heat cycles.

Gaslight, with a mantle with rare-earth elements, was a superior source of bright light for a period. The plasma struck between the two carbon electrodes also emits. Sticking to monochromatic light, a ray proceeding in a resonantly excited medium stimulates emission and becomes amplified. Amplification is relatively small with present devices; hence the ray must travel up and down between mirrors.

But no physical law limits amplification to such low levels.


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Semiconductor lasers, pumped by electric voltage, might hold the solution. In a second stage, they should also operate for a number of colors. In the case of a heat pump, due to temperature drops in the heat exchanger, it pumps heat from a temperature lower than T2 into a temperature higher than T1. For example, airplanes of the type ATR or Dash. We can calculate the amount of energy circulating in the system for a maglev with constant acceleration operating over a distance of kilometers. A train of metric tons accelerating at 0. A mean loss of 10 percent would require 14, kWh for one thousand seats, or 14 kWh per seat over km.

This would correspond to 84 kW per passenger at a typical trip time of 10 minutes e. For example, fifty trains might operate in each direction, spaced one minute apart. They can start from different stations or lanes. One per minute would be the frequency in the neck of the tunnel.

Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society. Reprinted in by Houghton Mifflin, Boston. Ausubel, J. Energy and environment: The light path. Energy Systems and Policy 15 3 Working less and living longer: Long-term trends in working time and time budgets. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 50 3 Darnton, R. Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France. Cambridge, Mass. Devine, W. From shafts to wires: Historical perspective on electrification. Journal of Economic History Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Hammond, J. Charles Proteus Steinmetz: A Biography.

New York: The Century. Hirsch, R. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Hughes, T. Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Jenkins, P. Phillips, E. Mulberg, and S. Activity patterns of Californians: Use of and proximity to indoor pollutant sources. Atmospheric Environment 26A 12 Kingsland, S. Quarterly Review of Biology Marchetti, C. Society as a learning system. Technological Forecasting and Social Change Fifty-year pulsation in human affairs: Analysis of some physical indicators.

Futures 17 3 Meyer, P. Bi-logistic growth. Nakicenovic, N. Grubler, eds. Diffusion of Technology and Social Behavior. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. Bodda, A. Grubler, and P. International Part. Nelson, C. Peck, and R. The NERC fan in retrospect and prospect. The Energy Journal 10 2 Nieth, R. Benoit, F. Descoeudres, M. Juter, and F.

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Lausanne : Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne. Nye, D. Electrifying America. Pennsylvania Power and Light. Origin and Development of the Company. Corporate History in nine volumes. Allentown, Penn. Poe, E. New York: Penguin.

US Economic Growth: Retrospect and Prospect

Sack, J. The Darwinian Theory of Distribution. December New York: Morgan Stanley. An Interrelated World. February Schilling, H. Essen, Germany: Vertrag Gluckauf. Schivelbusch, W. Berkeley, Calif. Shurr, S. Burwell, W. Devine, Jr. Westport, Conn. Starr, C. A personal history: Technology to energy strategy. Annual Review of Energy and the Environment Thirring, H. Energy for Man. Bloomington, Ind. US Bureau of the Census. Historical Statistics of the United States. Washington, D. Statistical Abstract of the United States. Bureau of the Census.

Washington, L,. Washington' D. Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment provides a surprising projection of a much greener planet, based on long-range analysis of trends in the efficient use of energy, materials, and land. The authors argue that we will decarbonize the global energy system and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We will dematerialize the economy by leaner manufacturing, better product design, and smart use of materials.

We will significantly increase land areas reserved for nature by conducting highly productive and environmentally friendly agriculture on less land than is used today, even as global population doubles. The book concludes that the technological opportunities before us offer the possibility of a vastly superior industrial ecology.

Rich in both data and theory, the book offers fresh analyses essential for everyone in the environmental arena concerned with global change, sustainable development, and profitable investments in technology. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website. Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one.

Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book. To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter. Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available. Do you enjoy reading reports from the Academies online for free?

Sign up for email notifications and we'll let you know about new publications in your areas of interest when they're released. Get This Book. Unfortunately, this book can't be printed from the OpenBook. At the end of the cycles, demand lags and overcapacity tends to appear. Will the higher-and-higher game resume? In both line voltage and generat- ing capacity, the growth in the second electrical wave exceeded the first by more than an order of magnitude.

The great advantage of continental and intercontinental connections is that standby reserves and peak capacity can be globalized. The worldwide load would be smoothed over the complete and immanent solar cycle. Generators could also become very large, with according economies of scale. If the system evolves to continental scale, the much-discussed superconduc- tivity at room temperature might not revolutionize transmission after all. Energy lost in transport and distribution is a stable 10 percent, a huge amount in absolute terms, but too small to change the basic economics if 2-megavolt lines cover the continents.

Superconductivity could, however, bring about a revolutionary drop in the size of machinery, thereby permitting the construction of units of larger capacity. Continental scale surely means increased international trade in electricity. All territory looks the same to electricity. If available technology is employed, electricity will stream across borders despite the political barriers that typically impede the easy flow of goods and ideas.

Today Europe exchanges electricity almost freely. Italy buys from France the equivalent production of six 1-gigawatt nuclear reactors either via direct high-voltage lines or through Switzerland. Elec- tricity trade could form a significant component of international payments over the next fifty to one hundred years, requiring reorganization and joint interna- tional ownership of the generating capacity. Electricity trade between Canada and the northeastern United States already elicits attention. The US electric industry searched successfully between and for efficient organization, notwith- standing the Great Crash of , as the average annual utilization climbed from.

The rise owed to spatial integration and the reduction of reserves consequent to the introduction of high-capacity transport lines with increasing operating voltage as well as the coordination of network dispatch to use plants more effectively. Since the system appears to have fluctuated around a utilization rate of 50 percent. Generators with low capital cost and high variable cost combine with base-loads plants with high capital cost and low variable cost to determine the current usage level. Although the utilization factor surely has a logical upper limit quite below percent, even with high-voltage lines having continental reach, a percent national average appears low, notwithstanding scorching August afternoons that demand extra peak capacity.

Breaking the percent barrier must be a top priority for the next era of the industry. Otherwise, immense capital sits on its hands. One attractive way to make electric capital work around the clock would be to use plants at night. The mismatched timing of energy supply and demand existed when water power dominated. Pricing, automation, and other factors might encourage many power- consuming activities, such as electric steel-making, to go on the night shift.

Nuclear heat, generating electricity by day, could of course help to make hydro- gen at night. The ability to store hydrogen would make the night shift productive. The nearness of overcapacity in the electrical system also creates suspicion that forecasting within the sector has not been reliable. Analyses of projections of total electricity use made by the US Department of Energy and others fuel the suspicion.

NOTE: Here and in Figure 8 the empty circles indicate periods of overlap in the sequential growth waves. Assigning the exact values to each wave during the periods of overlap is somewhat arbitrary. Of ten years, in federal officials projected an increase by from 2, terawatt hours to 4, terawatt hours. Can we do better? Fitting the data for total utility electric use to our model with data through yields an estimated level of about 2, terawatt hours for the growth pulse now ending Figure Net generation in was 2, terawatt hours. Projecting electricity demand matters because it influences in- vestments in capacity.

Accurate projections might have lessened the pain for the utilities, which ordered and then canceled plants; the equipment suppliers, who lost the orders; and consumers, who ultimately pay for all the mistakes. Conquering a terri- tory means connecting with potential users. Although slowed by the Great Depression, non-rural hookups reached 90 percent of the market by Rural areas joined the grid about one generation later than cities, reaching a midpoint of the process in versus for the townsfolk.

This interval measures the clout of rural politi. Bureau of the Census a. The data further confirm that electricity's first century has encompassed two eras. During the developmental spread of the system until about , most electricity went for industry and light, substituting for other energy carriers in already existing market niches. In the second era, electricity powered new de- vices, many of which could not have performed without it, such as televisions and computers.

Most of the new demand came in the residential and commercial sectors. Average residential consumption has increased by a factor of ten since and appears in our analyses to saturate in the s at about 10, kilowatt hours per year. One might say that the customer is the home, not the human. Home appliances have increased by the tens and hundreds of millions: refrigera- tors, video-cassette recorders, vacuum cleaners, toasters and ovens, clothes wash- ers and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, space heaters, and, more recently, personal computers, printers, and fax machines.

We emphasize the residential because it is becoming the number-one con- sumer. Residential consumption has grown faster than other major sectors over the past decades and in overtook industrial consumption in the United States. The number of housing units has grown sevenfold in the United States since , while the number of people has tripled, as residents per unit have declined and second homes increased see Schipper, this volume.

As the second wave of electrification reaches its culmination, the residential share appears des- tined to plateau at about 35 percent of the total use of electricity, more than twice. Californians already spend more than 60 percent of all their time at home indoors Jenkins et al. So do New Yorkers and Indians. Electrification has thus meant a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment at the level of the end-user, once protections against shock and other hazards were properly wired into the system.

Dangers associated with open fires and smoke diminished. Better-ventilated homes and workplaces lessened exposure to influ- enza, pneumonia, tuberculosis, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, scarlet fe- ver, and other airborne threats. Modern refrigeration in homes, shops, trucks, and railroad boxcars reduced the numerous waterborne gastrointestinal threats. Environmentally, electricity concentrates pollution at a few points. At these points we can deal with the problems or not. The main question then becomes: What is the primary energy source for the generation?

The most wanted environ- mental culprit is carbon, and so the main environmental challenge for electricity may be summarized by the measure of the carbon intensity of electricity produc- tion, for example, the ratio of carbon by weight to kilowatt hours generated. Since the s, the US ratio has fallen below only about metric tons per gigawatt hour and has remained rather flat in recent decades because coal has gained markets in electric power plants, offsetting efficiency gains in the operations of the plants as well as gains in terms of reductions that oil and especially gas would have contributed.

Many other countries have continued to create more watts with fewer carbon molecules. The world appears a bit past the middle point of a decarbonization process that will take another years for completion. The United States will not long remain apart from the global movement. Electricity production was originally based on coal alone. At present, it is the only outlet for coal. Even steel-making, which historically consumed a substan- tial fraction of coal sometimes more than 10 percent , abandoned coal, dropping demand. Coal will fight hard to keep its last customer.

Interestingly, electricity was never linked to oil, one of the other major transforming technologies of the twentieth century. Electricity and oil may now begin to compete seriously for the transport market, as we discuss later. Natural gas is already penetrating the elec. At present, electricity remains the only product of the nuclear system. Approaching an energy system with zero emissions, about which all environmentalists dream, will require nuclear to diversify into the hydrogen- making business.

The team of electricity and hydrogen can eventually solve all the problems of pollution at the level of the end-user of energy. Electrical systems can add visual pollution with their network of towers, wires, and poles. Militant Greens already dynamite pylons and will accept no new structures. New technologies can increase the capacity of the existing lines and diminish intrusions. Burying power lines might beautify the landscape, as well as lessen fears about the health effects of electromagnetic fields.

RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT

At the world level, the first centered in and the second in The present wave is saturating at close to 40 percent. For the United States, the current wave appears to have saturated at about the same level. Is there a limit to the fraction of fuels feeding into the electrical system? A third era of electri- cal growth does seem likely to occur. Electricity is more flexible and fungible than hydrocarbon fuels. The innumerable devices of the information revolution require electrical power. The transport sector, which has remained largely reliant on oil, could accept more electricity.

But the drawbacks are the inefficiencies and the costs of the transformation. Inefficiencies are eventually eaten up Nakicenovic et al. In fact, perhaps the greatest contribution of the West during the past three hundred years has been the zeal with which it has systematized the learning process itself through the inven- tion and fostering of modern science, institutions for retention and transmission of knowledge, and diffusion of research and development throughout the eco- nomic system. But learning may still go slowly when problems are hard. Technologists fought for three hundred years to bring the efficiency of steam power generation from 1 percent in to about 50 percent of its apparent limit today.

Electrical energy is glorified as the purest form of free energy. In fact, the heat value of other fuels when they burn also corresponds to free energy.

Thus, the thermodynamic limit of electric generators is percent. Of course, it can be very difficult to reduce losses in combustion. Still, we may muse that during the next three hundred years efficiency will go to 99 percent. Still, percent efficiency can be eyed as the next target, to be achieved over fifty years or so. Turbosteam plants with an efficiency of about 60 percent have been constructed.

Although further gains in this regard appear limited, the mas- sive diffusion of highly efficient turbine technology is sure to be a lucrative and influential feature of the next fifty years or so. Fuel cells, avoiding the free energy loss almost inevitable in the combustion process on which turbines rely, may well lead to the even higher efficiencies.

Electrochemistry promises such technology but mentally seems more or less still stuck in Edison's time. Perhaps solid-state physics can produce the insights leading to the needed leap forward as specialists in this field become more interested in surfaces, where the breakthroughs need to occur. At the percent level of efficiency, an almost all-electric distribution of primary energy looks most appealing. The catch is the load curve, which seems likely to remain linked to our circadian rhythms.

In Cole Porter's song lyric, we hear "Night and day, you are the one"; but in energy systems night still dims demand and means expensive machinery remains idle. Even in cities famous for. NOTE: Shown in a linear transform that normalizes the ceil- ing of each process to percent. The ratio of day to night activity does not seem to have changed much. The ancients actually spent considerable time awake at night, despite miserable illu- mination. The fine old word "elucubrate" means to work by the light of the midnight oil, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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Even if most humans continue to sleep at night, we have pointed out earlier that their energy-consuming machines can work nocturnally. In fact, remote con- trol and the shrinking work force required to operate heavy industry ease the problem. So, too, will linking parts of the globe in sun and shade, summer and winter. Still, we should clearly look further for efficiency gains. Much large electri- cal machinery is already so efficient that little or no gain is to be expected there. But a discontinuous step could yet come in the progress of machinery. The proliferation of numerous micro-machines will of course tend to raise electricity demand, par- tially offsetting the efficiency gains they offer.

The miniaturization of circuits and other aspects of computing systems in the past two decades shows how powerfully reducing the size of objects can increase their applications and num- bers. The main drawback of an electrical system is that it permeates the web of social services, so that a breakdown, even for a few hours, can bring tragedy. A defense against this vulnerability, as well as a means of addressing cyclical loads, could come with the diffusion of multipurpose mini- generators at the level of individual consumers.

In effect, we would delegate base load to the global system, leaving peaking and standby to a new multipurpose household appliance. Multipurpose means the device could produce heat, elec- tricity, and cold on demand. Such combined thermal, electric, and cooling systems, which we will call "splicers," are under development. Attempts so far, such as the FIAT TOTEM, have been unsuccessful, in part because the marketed models lack the basic characteristic of zero maintenance required by household gadgets.

Still, the scheme is appealing, both functionally and economically. The Japanese are doing a sizable amount of research and development in what appears to be a promising direction: stirring engines with free-floating pistons and a power output of a few kilowatts. The machines are maintenance-free, silent, and can compress fluids for the heating and cooling cycles on top of producing electricity with linear oscillat- ing generators.

The models described in the literature are powered by natural gas. In conjunction with a clean gas distribution system, the penetration of the splicer as a home appliance over the next fifty years could revolutionize the organization of the electrical system. The central control could become the switch- board of millions of tiny generators of perhaps 5 kilowatts. Electric utilities might initially abhor the technology that brings such functional change, but already some plan to use it.

One attraction is that the final user immediately pays the capital cost. In any case, the breakthroughs may come instead on the side of the consum- ers. A number of well-known machines and appliances need technological reju- venation, as efficiencies are systematically low. And new machines need to be invented. At a high level of abstraction, human needs are invariant: food, cloth- ing, shelter, social rank, mobility, and communication a form of mobility where symbols move instead of persons or objects.

Let us guess the shape of the new machines in the areas of vision and warmth. Efficient Vision Illumination, the first brilliant success of electricity beyond powering the workshop, provides a good example. Breaking the rule of the night is an old magical dream. The traditional tools oil lamps, torches, and candles were based on a flame with relatively low temperature and small amounts of incandes- cent soot to emit the light.

Electricity fulfilled the dream, almost from the beginning, with arc lights, whose emitting source was solid carbon at temperatures of thousands of degrees centigrade. The technical jump was enormous. Theaters, malls, and monuments were lavishly illuminated. People were seduced by the magic. Amusement parks such as Luna Park and Dreamland at Coney Island in New York drew millions of paying visitors to admire the architectural sculptures of light.

Edison's incandescent lamp was a trifle inferior to the arc in light quality and efficiency but was immensely more practical. Symbolically, in the New York Stock Exchange installed three large "electro-liers," new chande- liers with sixty-six electric lamps each, above the main trading floor. The exhibi- tion of the power to break the night came first and dramatically.

Penetration of the technology came later and, as usual, slowly. US cities, as shown earlier, achieved full illumination only about The period from to can be called a period of consolidated light. Lamps became brighter and efficiency rose. To the human eye, the quality of the light may actually have worsened with the spread of fluorescents. With laser light, which has terrible visual quality now, we may approach theoretical effi- ciency, though actual lasers remain inefficient. Will that be the light at the end of the tunnel?

To return to basics, we illuminate in order to see in the dark. Illumination has no value if nobody looks. Arriving in a town at night, we always see the roads brightly lit and empty, so we know of waste. The marvels of the s, electronic sensors and computer chips, can already scan rooms and streets and switch the lights off if no one is present. The watt-watch can help, but we can go further. Sophisticated weapons systems those mounted in helicopters, for ex- ample feel the thumb of the pilot, observe his eyes, and shoot where he looks.

A camera-computer in a room can watch the eyes of people present and illuminate only what they watch. Phased arrays, familiar in sonars and radars and developed now for infrared emitters, are certainly transportable into the visible range and can create sets of beams that are each directed to a chosen point or following a calculated track. The apparatus might now look baroque, but with miniaturization it could be concealed in a disk hanging from the ceiling of a room.

Such a gadget appears to be the supreme fulfillment, illuminating an object only if a human gazes upon it. But recall again that the objective is not to illuminate but to see. We illumi- nate because the eye has a lower limit of light sensitivity and, in any case, operating near such a limit is unpleasant.

Retrospect and prospect: information systems in the last and next 25 years: response and extension

The military has developed complicated gadgets by which scanty photons from a poorly illuminated target are multiplied electronically to produce an image of sufficient luminosity. The principle is good; the machine is primitive. If photons flowing in an energized medium such. We could throw away all sorts of illuminating devices. A few milliwatts of power would be enough to brighten the night. Efficient Warmth The largest part of energy consumed in the home is used for temperature control. Space heating accounts for 60 percent or more of total residential energy use in many developed countries.

Heating a home is a notably inelegant process from a thermodynamic point of view. Heat pumps solve the problem conceptu- ally, but they see temperatures inside their heat exchangers and consequently overwork. Consider a radically different proposal. Windows are the big leaks, even when the glazing is sophisticated and expensive. Why not use window panes as thermoelectric devices, not to carry heat uphill but to stop heat from sledding downhill, that is, as heat-flux stopping devices? Thermoelectric generators are usually seen as machines to make electricity by using the principle of the thermocouple.

However, the device is reversible: by passing electricity through the machine, heat can be moved uphill. Several de- cades ago refrigerators were proposed using this principle on the basis of its great simplicity, although efficiencies are low. The old scheme for refrigerators could be revised in view of new thermoelectric materials and given suitably competi- tive objectives. The basic idea is that electrodes on the inner and outer surfaces of the windowpanes can be made of conductive, transparent glasses.

Glass made of zinc oxide might be sufficiently conductive. Voltages across the glass would be very low volts or fractions of volts. Holding a temperature differential with zero flux would be more efficient energetically than putting heat electrically! Electric Motion So far we have looked at examples where efficiency wins, and net demand for power grows, only if the human population and its use of devices increase faster than efficiency. Now let us look at one example where a large new market might emerge, matching the ultra-high voltage lines and continental connections.

Toward the end of the last century electric motors for vehicle engines at- tracted much inventive action. Edison and Ferdinand Porsche produced sophisti. The idea flopped on the roads but succeeded on the rails. Electric trams clamored through American and European cities, helped create suburbs, and in some cases connected cities.

After most of the system was rapidly dismantled, largely because the trams could not match buses and cars in flexibility or speed. The mean velocity of transport keeps increasing through the progressive substitution of old technologies with new, faster ones. For France, the increase in the average speed of all machine transport has been about 3 percent per year during the last two centuries. Urban and suburban railways have a mean speed of only about 25 kilometers per hour, including stops. Cars have a mean speed on short distance trips of about 40 kilometers per hour.

The latest in the series are airplanes, with a mean speed of kilometers per hour. Airplanes will provide most of the increase in mean speed over the next fifty years. Electric trains succeeded in Europe and Japan for the densely trafficked lines and still operate today. They have decent acceleration and speed compared with diesels. But most trains are not fast; the inclusive travel time on intercity rail journeys is only about 60 kilometers per hour.

The fastest trains, the French trains a grande vitesse TGVs , are electric. The question for trains is how to compete with cars on one side and with airplanes on the other. Electricity prob- ably cannot compete with hydrogen for propulsion of cars and other light ve hicles.

The great market challenge for the current generation of fast trains, with top speeds of kilometers per hour, is the short distances of less than kilome- ters along which cars congest and airplanes cannot compete. The present configu- ration of airports and airplanes are high-speed but low-flux machines. TGVs could prove extremely competitive in the intense shuffling of commuters and shoppers within these distances.

A cursory review of Europe reveals about 5, kilometers of intercity links fitting the constraints of a kilometer distance and high potential passenger flux. Fast trains consume more or less the same amount of primary energy per seat-kilometer as a turboprop planets or a compact car. From the power point of view, a running TGV absorbs about 10 kilowatts per seat. The mean power demand of the proposed 5,kilometer system of TGV trains for commuters and shoppers would be around 6 gigawatts, with a peak of probably 10 gigawatts. If the concept is successful, this form of transport will be an important consumer of electricity, but it will take at least fifty years to become fully implemented.

To go to very high passenger fluxes over longer distances, one would need to go to aerial configurations of which even the most daring air-transport planners do not chance to dream: flocks of airplanes of five thousand passengers each taking off and landing together like migrating birds. For intense connections linking large cities with peak fluxes around ten thousand passengers per hour, a solution is emerging that matches system re- quirements: the magnetically levitated maglev train operating in a partially evacuated tube or tunnel.

In fact, Swiss engineers have developed the concept of. To handle the shock wave from a high-speed train, a tunnel normally needs a cross section about ten times that of the train. In addition to narrowing greatly the tunneling requirement, the partial vacuum greatly reduces friction, making speed cheap and thus expanding the operational range of the train. When operated at constant acceleration- for example, 5 meters per second or 0. Consequently, daily commuting and shopping become fea- sible. Such daily trips account for 90 percent of all travel and are controlled by the total human time budget for travel of about one hour per day.

With fast, short trips cities can coalesce in functional clusters of continental size. City pairs spaced less than kilometers or ten minutes apart by maglevs, such as Bonn- Berlin, Milan-Rome, Tokyo-Osaka, and New York-Washington, would espe- cially benefit. Part of the energy consumption of vacuum maglevs overcomes residual fric- tion; an economic balance must be struck between the friction losses and the pumping power to keep the vacuum.

Part regenerates the electromagnetic system that pushes and pulls the trains. The great advantage of the constant acceleration configuration for maglevs is that the energy required for each length of track is constant and could be stored, perhaps magnetically, in the track itself. Power demand is proportional to train speed and moves into the gigawatt range in the central section; however, with local storage a few kilowatt hours per meter the external electric power net- works would see only the need to make up losses.

Even assuming percent efficiency, these would not be negligible. One hundred trains per hour would demand 1 gigawatt for the single line on which they operated. The first long-distance maglev will probably run in about five to ten years. Berlin-Hamburg is under construction. The penetration of the technology will be gradual, as major infrastructural technologies always are.

In fact, the next fifty years will probably be used largely to establish the feasibility, chart the maglev map, and prepare for the big push in the second half of the twenty-first century. In the long run, maglevs may establish several thousand kilometers of lines and become one of the most important users of electricity. A maglev trip per day becomes a few thousand kilowatt hours per year per person.

If India and Eastern China join life in this superfast lane, the picture of a globally integrated, high- capacity electrical system begins to cohere. Our examples suggest this is true for the United States and globally. Two waves of electrification have passed through our societies. In the first, the United States attained system saturation in the s at about 1, kilowatt hours annual consumption per residential customer, gigawatt hours of total annual use, 40 gigawatts of installed capacity, and 20 percent of primary fuels producing electricity.

In the second wave, we have reached 10, kilowatt hours per residential customer, 3, gigawatt hours of total use, gigawatts of installed capacity, and about 40 percent of fuels producing electricity. The fact that the patterns of temporal diffusion and growth are followed makes it possible to fit dynamic equations to the time series of facts and then compare them for consistency.

This operation indicates that the s are the season of saturation, which includes the experience of overcapacity or, alter- nately, underconsumption. Such phases are not uncommon for various branches of the industrial system, as managers tend to assume that growth characteristics of boom periods will extend into recessions, while consumers cut corners. In the short term, total energy and electric energy consumption may continue to grow at a slower rate than overall economic activity. One interpretation is that during the expansion period of the long cycles the objective is growth, while during the recessive period the objective is to compete, shaving costs here and there and streamlining production.

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The savings include energy. Meeting goals pertaining to environmental quality and safety further tighten the system. A new cycle formally beginning in started the game again, although the effects of the restart will not be particularly visible for a few years. Minima are flat. Looking at the cycles from a distance to grasp the general features, one sees the periods around their ends as revolutionary, that is, periods of reorganiza- tion-political, social, industrial, and institutional. We are evidently at this con- junction, and the electrical system will not escape it.

When the electrical system served the village, a complete vertical integration was inevitable. Regional coverage, the preferred scale of the past fifty years, also favored such integration. With the expansion to continental dimensions, a shift in responsibilities may make the system more efficient, agile, and manageable.

The typical division is production, trunk-line transport, and retailing, with different organizations taking care of the pieces and the market joining them.