Will Texas electricity come without power lines?
Researchers in Texas and beyond are exploring innovation in electricity delivery. They have been successful transmitting small amounts of power over short distances. Though you won’t see power lines being dismantled any time soon, companies are investing in new technologies that could drastically change how Texas retail power travels from power plants to homes and businesses. Ultimately, this could change how electricity is delivered, starting with small electronic devices like cell phones and eventually powering larger items like batteries in electric cars.
Mobile charging for electric cars?
Wireless charging for cell phones has been available to customers for several years now. When electricity moves through a wire, it creates a magnetic field around it. When the wire is wrapped in a coil, the magnetic field is more powerful. If you put another coil of wire within range of the magnetic field, it will cause the electrons in this other coil of wire to move or “oscillate”. This is essentially how a wireless phone charger works. Cell phone users place their phones on electronic pads, and batteries charge without a wired connection to the pad. It’s fairly efficient when you’ve got devices right up against each other but the energy efficiency and reliability starts falling off when the power transmitter and receiver are separated by several feet or one of them is moving around.
Some transportation experts foresee a future highway system where driverless electric cars charge wirelessly using green electricity from transmitters at ground level. All the while, the car never touches the transmitters. The rate of traffic crashes would decrease, traffic flow would improve, and the volume of greenhouse gas emissions would drop.
The challenge facing this notion is that either the power transmitting coil and vehicle’s receiver coil must remain nearly still, or a controlling device must automatically and continuously tune the magnetic field —which is quite a conundrum for a car moving at highway speed.
Last year, Stanford University researchers discovered a simple way to deliver electricity wirelessly to moving objects. They see a promising application of this technology to expanding the range of electric cars. Today, cars must stop around every 200 miles and tether to a charging station. It can take several hours to fully recharge an electric car battery.
The small scale wireless transmission technology could have implications for retail electricity providers. Even though power plants and homes don’t move, wireless relay stations could move without interrupting service. Time will tell how quickly this will become reality, but experts expect demand for magnetic resonance technology to increase in the next few years.
Small town Texas contributes to wireless electricity development
In the tiny Texas town of Carl’s Corner, big things are happening in wireless. Along one of Texas’s most traveled highways, an odd construction project begs to be noticed. The tower looks like a giant immersion blender sticking out of the ground.
Waxahachie, Texas, based company Viziv is using the tower to study the feasibility of wireless electricity transmission from source to user. Associated with Baylor University’s Research and Innovation Collaborative, the company calls its technology a surface wave system.
Viziv hopes the surface wave system “will improve the quality of life for people everywhere by enabling the delivery of affordable electricity throughout the world.” According to the Viziv website, the wireless system works by positioning a transmitter probe near a generating station. Power is transmitted over the air and received at a receiver station which passes the power into the local grid. Viziv says they’re not ready to release any major research findings just yet, so we’ll have to wait and see what they devise.
Switching your Texas electricity plan
Though wireless delivery of your home’s electricity isn’t a reality yet, that doesn’t mean you have to stick with the way you’re getting your power now. You can switch your Texas electricity plan quickly and easily through Texas Electricity Ratings. Save money on your next power bill after you compare electricity plans.