The future of the energy industry is the successful integration of renewable energy sources in the existing energy infrastructure. To enable the transition to a low-carbon energy system the roll-out of the smart grid is essential. Energy Delta Institute provides information to help people remain up to date on developments, regulations and technological advances. An introduction to smart grids is provided below, and additional resources include:
An introduction to Smart Grids
The future of the energy industry is the successful integration of renewable energy sources in the existing energy infrastructure. Our current power grids have not been build with the capacity to integrate large amounts of renewable energy sources. To enable the transition to a low-carbon energy system the roll-out of the smart grid is essential. A smart grid is not easily defined as it is not a “thing’ but more a vision of the future power infrastructure.
The term smart grids is used because in the current power grid a limited amount of information technology and control systems are available. This especially the case for distribution networks in urban environments. However, grid operators are upgrading the infrastructure with new capabilities that allow for additional control and monitoring systems. Reliability, efficiency, security and enabling energy services are main drivers for upgrading the current grid infrastructure.
The digital technology that allows for two-way communication between the utility and its customers, and the sensing along the transmission lines is what makes the grid smart. Like the internet, the smart grid will consist of controls, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment working together. These technologies will work with the electrical power grid to respond digitally to our changing power demand.
The bigger picture of the smart grid is that it enables optimized grid efficiency, becomes self healing, operates resiliently and accommodates all generation, storage and back-up systems. It is not only about utilities and technology but the smart grid will empower customers with insight on consumption and benefits such as home automation, (local) energy services and energy trading.
There are many misconceptions about smart grids and how this concept will be implemented in the near future. Throughout the world there are hundreds of pilot projects for smart grid implementations. Due to regulation and policy some countries or states are more advanced with actual large scale deployment than others. One element of the smart grid vision that is being deployed at a large scale is the advanced metering infrastructure, for consumers known as the smart meter.
Investments in power grids are not always visible for the public and turning electrical appliances on is often taken for granted. However this market is significant and the economy is dependent on reliable power. To give an idea of the scale, an estimated seventy billion US dollars are spend on power infrastructure annually per year. Smart grids will contribute to the rise in annual investment in power infrastructure which is estimated to become two hundred billion US dollars by 2020.