A Smart Grid is an evolved electricity supply network that uses digital communications technology to improve the two-way communication between supply and consumer, detect and react to local changes in usage, automation, and connectivity of the various components of the power network. The main components of a Smart Grid are electric power generators, electric power substations, transmission and distribution lines, controllers, smart meters, collector nodes, and distribution and transmission control centres.
A Smart Grid can assist utilities towards grid optimization by encapsulating demand response and the management of distributed energy resources through the implementation a variety of operation and energy measures - including smart meters; asset and system condition monitoring and analysis; renewable energy integration and storage; smart appliances; and energy efficiency initiatives.
All of these initiatives coming together to represent a fantastic opportunity to greatly improve the current electricity industry in terms of reliability, availability, and efficiency - for the mutual benefit of both operators and consumers.
The Smart Grid represents an opportunity to support and transition the energy industry into an era of reliability, availability, and efficiency. Some of the benefits associated with the Smart Grid include:
In order for the Smart Grid to work effectively, it relies on an entire system of smart technologies.
Examples of smart grid applications include:
Generation – A wide variety of generation sources that can respond quickly to changing demand will be necessary as intermittent renewables become an important component of the energy system. As more energy generation sources are distributed, the Smart Grid will help to effectively connect all these power generating systems to the grid, provide data about their operation to utilities and owners and give information about how much surplus energy is feeding back into the grid versus being consumed on site.
Distribution – Distribution intelligence enables an electric utility to remotely monitor and coordinate its distribution assets (transmission lines, substations etc.), operating them in an optimal matter using either manual or automatic controls. The Smart Grid also provides outage detection and response capabilities, sometimes enabling the grid to “self-heal”.
Consumption – Computerized controls in your home and appliances can be set up to communicate with the smart grid and respond to signals from your energy provider to minimize their energy use at times when the power grid is under stress from high demand, or to reduce power consumption at high priced hours. Smart controls and appliances can predict consumption patterns and respond to a wide set of pre-programmed variables to curb electricity use and costs.
The Smart Grid will consist of millions of pieces and parts—controls, computers, power lines, and new technologies and equipment. It will take some time for all the technologies to be perfected, equipment installed, and systems tested before it comes fully on line. And it won’t happen all at once—the Smart Grid is evolving, piece by piece, over the next decade or so. Once mature, the Smart Grid will likely bring the same kind of transformation that the Internet has already brought to the way we live, work, play, and learn.
All fields of Electrical Power and Renewable Energy Engineering, particularly those in the following areas:
Contributed to the United States Department of Energy
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