Line loss

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on May 6, 2009 @ 9:56 am


Recently, someone asked me a question that I didn’t know the answer to, that’s rare, and I put it out there in the world and got a response.

Q:  Given line loss is heat and energy, what is impact of line loss on global warming?

And the answer that I got in an Economist comment:

Yon Yatsin wrote:

Sorry Carol but I see some bad science here and need to correct you:

The line loss resulting from electricity transmission has a negligible impact on global warming. Global Warming is caused by the addition of gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane to the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases change the ability of the Earth to radiate heat initially absorbed from solar energy back into space. The problem isn’t that our appliances, industrial processes, and transportation generate heat. The problem is that the method of producing this heat is ultimately derived from fossil fuel combustion. Think of it like this: if the composition of the atmosphere 150 years ago can be thought of us a down blanket on your bed, the atmosphere today can be thought of as a thicker down blanket. Slight changes to your metabolism won’t have as much of an effect on the temperature in your bed as the blanket.

True, there is heat loss due to resistance in the wires during electricity transmission. This results in a local increase in temperature, within the immediate vicinity of the line. Energy (and heat and work) are conserved. But because the net sum of the heat loss of the wire is small relative to the system’s ability to absorb it without a dramatic change in temperature the temperature increase will be negligible, perhaps a few millionths of a degree if that. Think of electricity transmission like a space heater in your house. While it may be effective at heating a room, chances are it won’t produce enough heat to change the overall temperature of your house, let along your yard, your neighbor’s house, or the store down the street.

Sounds about right, don’t cha think?

one comment so far »

  1. This responds is about where the power comes from. I think you have an issue with coal plants not these power lines. Yes these power lines have EMF (electo magnetic field) but that is the same as appiance in your house and doesn’t cause any problems. These line will not effect global warming.

    These lines are going in to bring wind energy up from South Dakota and Iowa so they are allowing the utilities to follow the new LAW of 25% renewalbe energy by 2020.

    The problem is that the method of producing this heat is ultimately derived from fossil fuel combustion. <<< that isnt about these line. these are very much needed and will not have a negative effect on global warming!

    Comment by James Turner — May 14, 2009 @ 6:37 am

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace