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Author

Undecided with Matt Ferrell

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects

Science, Social Studies, Physics, Economics, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Videos, 14 minutes, 49 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global, Africa, Europe

Format

YouTube Video

Exploring the Power Grid of the Future

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Synopsis
  • This video explains and compares the future prospects of powering the world through utility-scale power grids (macrogrids) and small-scale power grids (microgrids or distributed power systems). 
  • Students will learn about the infrastructure, environmental impacts, technology, cost, and politics that are involved in building and using macrogrids and microgrids. 
  • The video also explains how British company, Xlinks, plans to build a renewable energy plant in Morocco that will supply eight percent of the United Kingdom's energy needs. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This video highlights the benefits of communities being more self-sufficient and having a more local mindset.
  • The video offers a brief description of how power plants supply power to users.

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video begins with an advertisement and there is sponsored content in the middle at 4:31-5:20.
  • The video discusses complicated electricity costs that might be confusing for students.

Differentiation

  • Speech and debate clubs or English language arts classes could debate the benefits of macrogrids vs. microgrids.
  • Physics classes could use this video after a lesson about resistance, capacitors, and electrical circuits.
  • Civics, social studies, and economics classes could research and discuss the political or monetary influence that utility providers and non-renewable energy providers have and how it has shaped current policies and infrastructure.
  • Other resources on this topic include this Vox video on the value of microgrids, this video on producing and storing renewable energy, and this interactive map that shows energy infrastructure in the United States.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 15-minute video that presents a comprehensive overview of electricity transmission lines on a global scale. Capabilities and challenges with both large-scale macrogrids and small-scale microgrids are discussed, and a specific example of a U.K.-Morocco macrogrid transmission project is described in detail. This resource gets somewhat technical with regards to electricity costs, and so may not be appropriate for younger students. Otherwise, this resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-2 Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1 Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
      • HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.14.9-12 Analyze the role of comparative advantage in international trade of goods and services.
      • D2.Eco.7.9-12 Use benefits and costs to evaluate the effectiveness of government policies to improve market outcomes.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.11.9-12 Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.
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