113Convergence of Utility Companies

Electric distribution utilities will face intense competition from marketers in purchasing reliable supplies of electricity and getting and maintaining customers. Technological progress in the development of the distributed generation technologies will provide incentives for local-distribution electric firms to merge with gas distribution firms. Besides the obvious advantage of economies in joint operation such as those realized from joint metering, a merged electric-gas distribution utility can use the gas infrastructure as a storage system for its electric operations. Although the merged utility will be indifferent as to how energy reaches the customer, electricity is the energy of choice for customers and, as discussed above, is likely to remain so as new electro-technologies enter the consumer market.

Widespread use of advanced communications technologies such as fiber optics (which many electric utilities currently use in their transmission systems) is an incentive for the convergence of more than just electric and gas utilities. A drawback of using fiber-optic cable for retail communications by electric distribution companies is that only a small portion — roughly 2% — of the bandwidth will be used for transmitting information. This provides an additional incentive for mergers of existing utility companies, however. There are incentives for the convergence of telephone, internet, and cable utilities with the energy industries jointly using fiber-optic cable. Because of their use of meters, water utilities may even be a major part of this trend toward convergence.

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

Solar Stirling Engine Basics Explained

The solar Stirling engine is progressively becoming a viable alternative to solar panels for its higher efficiency. Stirling engines might be the best way to harvest the power provided by the sun. This is an easy-to-understand explanation of how Stirling engines work, the different types, and why they are more efficient than steam engines.

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