Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Smart Grids

Lynne Kiesling is gearing up for a mega-lecture on next generation smart utility grids. This technology is going to be one of the medium term drivers of the new green economy, because it is able to adapt to the diffuse manufacture and delivery of energy required by the green energy revolution.

What is the definition of smart grid, and what are its most important and relevant features? I encourage you to think of smart grid from two different directions simultaneously — its technologies and its functionalities. Technologically, a smart grid is a digital communication overlay and integration into the electric power network. This communication technology includes

* Digital switching networks
* Remote sensing and monitoring in wires and in transformers
* Fault detection
* Devices for automated fault repair
* Intelligent end-use devices in homes, stores, office buildings, garages, and factories.

These various smart grid technologies enable a variety of functionalities in the electric power network, such as

* Transactive coordination of the system (many of the following functionalities contribute to this coordination)
* Distributed resource interconnection, including renewable generation
* The ability of a resource/agent to be either a producer or consumer of electricity, or both
* Demand response to dynamic pricing
* The ability of an agent to program end-use devices to respond autonomously to price signals
* Distribution system automation by the wires company, leading to better service reliability

The integration of these technologies into the electric power network will embed distributed intelligence in the systems that the network comprises.

(via mr)

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