Smart Grid – What is it?

At iTeres we have like most in the industry seen many conflicting statements about what Smart Grid is. The DoE and other groups have proposed definitions and while all share some common elements none seem to really hit the nail on the head. We feel that the definition below fits our understanding of Smart Grid as an industry today.

‘A closed electric ecosystem with energy and information traveling bi-directionally from the point of consumption to the point of generation across inter-connected systems, for the purpose of improving reliability, reducing the proliferation of infrastructure over time, creating energy awareness, and improving the capability to forecast trends and events.’

For this week I would like to focus on the reducing the proliferation of infrastructure over time.

This is an interesting dynamic when you view the issue from a comprehensive national energy startegy that includes significant increases in renewable sources such as wind, solar, and biomass.

These sources of energy are not capable of generating the same amount of energy that fossil fuel and nuclear powered generating plants are. Leading to the logical conclusion we will need more renewable plants to accomplish the shift into alternate fuel sources for power generation. This also means additional transmission infrastructure is required to connect these new plants to the grid.

Smart Grid and demand management is the critical element to making the shift feasible. If the envisioned demand management and demand destruction strategies are not effective, the amount of new infrastructure required will sky rocket. Thousands of miles of new transmission lines will have to be constructed and the devices required to operate and monitor will have to be deployed right along side. This will create incredible amounts of data and complexity if the point of consumption behaviors are not modified.

This is why iTeres views Smart Grid as a closed ecosystem. Each component from generating plan to point of consumption must be working in concert for Smart Grid on a national scale to be a success.