We are looking for super smart grid, an intelligent electrical grid which includes a variety of highly effective operation and energy measures including super smart meters, super smart appliances, innovative renewable energy resources, and energy efficient resources.
What is the “Smart Grid”?
“Smart grid” refers to the ongoing and long overdue technological upgrades to electrical power transmission grids around the world, whereby utilities are employing innovative hardware, software and communications technology to create a “smart grid” – an electrical grid (i.e., electrical delivery system) that can monitor, predict, and “intelligently” respond to fluctuating conditions caused by the varying behaviors of the electric power suppliers and consumers to deliver reliable and sustainable electricity service as efficiently as possible.
How does Smart Grid work?
The basic concept of the smart grid is to add monitoring, analysis, control, automation and communication capabilities to the electrical grid to maximize the throughput and reliability of the system and reduce energy consumption. The term “smart grid” generally refers to all of the technology and systems that improve control, efficiency and reliability of the electric grid at all stages -- including generation, storage, transmission, substations, distribution networks, and meters, as well as energy efficient networks, and even certain “next gen” electrical appliances, devices and services for all power consumers (homes, commercial buildings, and industrial users).
Ultimately, the goals of the smart grid are more efficient transmission of electricity; greater reliability and quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances; reduced operation and maintenance (O&M) costs for utilities (and, hence, lower costs for consumers); reduced peak demand (which will help lower electricity rates and the need for new generation sources); better integration of large-scale renewable energy systems; accommodation of higher loading levels and different loading patterns; better integration of customer-owned power generation systems (again, including renewables ); and, not least of all, improved grid security (the smart grid includes advanced and adaptive system protection and control applications to increase system security and reliability).
What role does IT play in the Smart Grid?
The term “smart” in “smart grid” refers largely to the incorporation of information technology (IT) for processing, storing, communicating and displaying data; and creating “microgrids” (i.e., small, self-contained electrical grids) that may be or operated in isolation and/or interfaced to the main grid – i.e., the digital technology that allows for two-way communication between the utilities and their customers; the sensors and other advanced monitoring equipment throughout the systems; and the other controls, automation, and other new technologies and equipment that work together to monitor, analyze and respond digitally (in “real time”) to changing electricity supply and demand conditions and other events and circumstances affecting the electrical grid.
What is driving the move to Smart Grid?
The smart grid revolution is being driven not only by public policy and private sector energy efficiency pressures, as well as the high cost of creating new generation sources, but also by the long history of under-investment in grid infrastructure (and information technology) in the utility industry. There are over 3,000 utilities that distribute power in the U.S. (including public utilities, privately owned utilities, and cooperatives), and more than 2,000 other non-utility companies that produce, market, and/or distribute power. According to one estimate, the total investment required for full worldwide smart grid implementation will be $2 trillion, with an estimated $480 billion for smart grid-related upgrades in the U.S. alone. Utilities already are the largest investors in smart grid infrastructure, with billions of dollars invested each year. Conversely, according to some reports, there could be as much as a 400% increase in electricity prices in the next 20-30 years if the existing grid is not upgraded to a smart grid.
How is the Smart Grid Evolving?
The smart grid generally is evolving from one end of the grid to the other – that is, from the consumer end to the utility end of the grid. The first major innovation of the smart grid has been “smart meters” -- electrical meters that are equipped with real or near real time sensors and two-way communication capability between the meter and the utility, for monitoring, billing, analytic and other purposes. Current estimates are that at least 25 - 30% of U.S. homes and businesses already have a smart meter. Ultimately, it is expected that homes in the future typically will be equipped with a variety of smart meters and other monitoring devices that not only will allow homeowners to adapt their behavior to changing conditions (such as the cost of power and the existing load on the grid), but many of those decisions will be made automatically via pre-programmed equipment and devices that are controlled by “smart” home energy control systems.
Smart meters not only allow consumers to track and manage electricity usage, they also enable utilities to set up new service connections or disconnections, quickly respond to service interruptions, and cut operating costs with “automated meter reading” (“AMR”). AMR refers to an automated system that collects usage and other data from the electric meters and then transfers that data to the other end of the electrical grid – the utility’s central database (for billing, analysis, etc.) Among other things, AMR allows for dynamic electric rates (i.e., billing based on real-time consumption).