zondag 10 april 2011

The Smart Grid: Report (4)

This article is part of a series of article about the Smart Grid. It explains the concept of the Smart Grid, how it will evolve and what technologies can/will be used for it. The articles of this series make up a report that I have written for a course that I follow as a student. It is recommended to read this articles in the correct order, because else it will probably be not that easy to understand everything. If there are any comments, remark or such on this report, please do not hesitate to contact me or post it as a comment.

The main goals of the smart grid are to upgrade the power grid, and so to make it more stable, reliable and efficient. But next to this there is another main goals, that is to make it possible and ready for the new technologies to be integrated in the various systems of the power grid.
Smart grid, the communications network for the electrical grid, has a great potential to improve the power grid in terms of economic and energy efficiency for the complex requirements in the field of power generation, transmission, distribution and supply. The power markets of many countries has undergone fundamental changes in recent years that makes it necessary to fall back on the use of ICT, more communication technologies, and more automation.

Three issues played a main role in these fundamental changes:
  • Firstly, the liberalisation of the power markets, connected with unbundling of the regulated market and the emerging competition,
  • Secondly, the strong growth of decentralised energy generation, particularly in the field of the renewable energy resources,
  •  Thirdly, the need for efficient use of energy so to reduce the emissions of the greenhouse gasses. In addition, progress in  information , automation, and tele-communications technologies is growing and expanding very rapidly. The internet and wireless transmission technologies such as GSM and related applications have become standard. The growing and often area-wide coverage of the available broadband solutions enables new forms of information and communication, summarised under the slogan “ambient intelligence”. But of course, to tap this potential, appropriate investment is needed.

Once the obstacles are overcome and the smart grid in successfully integrated in the power grid, it is expected that processes in the energy sector will become more efficient in terms of both economics as well as in terms of energy efficiency. Procedures will also be more transparent, what possibly can led to that formerly passive groups, such as domestic customers, can become more active players through the smart grid network. The increase in players as well as their better access to relevant information will create more  competition in generation and supply and make the energy system smarter and cleaner at the same time. The process toward the smart grid can only proceed stepwise, however. It is there important to implement new solutions in such a way that they always allow further upgrading in the future. Maybe the internet can, in a way, be some kind of model for the communication network of the smart grid.

There are, currently, some obstacles in place that make it difficult for the smart grid to be implemented:
  •  Consumer concerns about privacy,
  • Concerns over giving the utilities mechanisms to (limited) control over the use of appliances and power using devices and processes,
  • Limited ability of utilities to rapidly transform their businesses and operational environment to take advantage of smart grid technologies,
  • Social concerns over abuses of information leverage,
  • Others.

Once the smart gird will be started up, probably there will come a lot more new smart grid technologies than those discussed in this report. So, in a way, the smart grid is only the start of a new era for the power grid, in a similar way as the internet started a new era for the computer technologies.

1. The Smart Grid - A saucerful of secrets? Wissner, Matthias. 2011, Applied Energy 88, pp. 2509 - 2518.
2. The Smart Grid: A Bridge between Emerging Technologies, Society, and the Environment. Schuler, Richard E. 2010, The Brigde, Vol 10, No 1, pp. 44 - 49.
3. Tester, Jefferson W., et al., et al. Sustainable Energy - Choosing Among Options. Cambrige, MA : The MIT Press, 2005. 978-0262201537.
4. Mitchell, William J., Borrondi-Bird, Christopher E. and Burns, Lawrence D. Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century. Cambrige, MA : The MIT Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-262-01382-6.

Geschreven door Emile Glorieux 

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