What is Smart Grid?
The electric power grid, hailed as “the most significant engineering achievement of the 20th Century,” has been the primary driver of the economy for more than a century. It contributes incalculably to the comfort, security, and safety that we associate with everyday life.
Unlike the field of telecommunications, relatively little has changed in the electric grid over the years and, in many parts of the country, demand is growing faster than the current grid can deliver. At the same time, the demands of the digital age, the cost of energy, protecting the environment, reliability and security are increasing our our requirements from the electric system. In response, utilities, policy makers and other stakeholders are planning ways to use technology to update our grid. That’s what Smart Grid is all about.
Smart Grid envisions an electric system that is two-way, interconnected and automated, much like the Internet. While the specific details vary from utility to utility and state to state, a number of ideas are part of the overall vision including:
Integrating electric utilities with telecommunications systems and innovative technologies to allow consumers to reduce the cost of the power they use and utilities to reduce the cost of delivering that power.
Deploying new systems to better integrate clean sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro power.
Employing new tools and techniques to more efficiently and securely balance power between rising and falling demand.
Managing the system through rapid response, digital controls, automated problem analysis, and automated devices, much like the Internet is managed today.
Allowing utilities and consumers to use information-rich dashboards and decision tools to manage the grid in real time.
||Ubiquitous two-way communication|
||Ubiquitous monitors and sensors|
||Semi-automated restoration or self-healing|
|Failures and blackouts
||Adaptive protection and "islanding"|
|Emergency decisions by committee/phone
||Decision support systems, predictive reliability|
|Limited control over power flows
||Pervasive control systems|
|Limited price information
||Full price information|
|Limited consumer influence and involvement
||Consumer influence and involvement|