Monday, March 09, 2009

Creating A Smart Grid: What is the smart grid?

The smart grid as an intelligent two-way network used to deliver base load and alternative energy supply to our customers. It integrates energy efficiency, demand response and distributed-resources technologies to enable the grid operators to make intelligent decisions that help them run the grid more efficiently, reliably and at a lower cost. Ultimately, technology can greatly improve the ability of the system to react in an automated manner in real time. While the grid is the delivery channel by which we can introduce these tools and technologies into the mix, demand response, distributed resources, alternative energy and energy efficiency have fundamental differences.

Energy efficiency is a tool to reduce the need for base load, while demand response is used primarily to reduce peak loads. These are two very different tools to deliver very different outcomes, but we often hear energy efficiency and demand response talked about as if they are interchangeable. They are complementary perhaps, but not the same.

It appears that much of what is being developed today is focused on communications platforms and protocols to move data. Moving data, however, will not make utilities any smarter about how to optimally operate the grid. In fact, more data might make things worse. If the data can't be harnessed and converted into grid intelligence, then the notion of a smart grid won't evolve beyond the conceptual stage.

By Joe Belechak - Transmission & Distribution World, August 2007

No comments: