The smart grid will employ many kinds of communications technologies, ranging from fiberoptics to wireless and to wireline, including Power Line Communications and broadband access modes like xDSL. Among the wireline options, several PLC technologies are already available or being standardized. But this wide availability of PLC technologies also has some drawbacks.
In an effort to reduce its near-total dependence on coal, prepare for the prospect of lower coal exports, diversify its generation mix, modernize its grid and serve as a model to other states, Kentucky has been developing a comprehensive smart grid roadmap. Already, the roadmap team has obtained illuminating input from the state's utilities.
Power systems can be seen as having vertical technical layers and horizontal management layers; for overall optimization, each set of layers needs a cross-layer control mechanism. In designing such controls for a variety of functions, care must be taken to respect the integrity and independence of the vertical and horizontal stacks.
The University of Minnesota has built a microgrid at its Morris campus that is a microcosm of what eventually could be the norm everywhere. The campus, highly reliant on locally generated renewable energy, is almost self-sustaining in terms of energy and net-zero in terms of carbon. The next step will be to reduce energy use and improve efficiency, with the introduction of time-of-day pricing schemes.
A strategic partnership in vehicular technology related to the smart grid between IEEE and SAE International is only about a year old but already is producing results. One prime example is SAE International's work on a prototype charging coupler that leverages technology standardized by IEEE.
President Harry S. Truman said, "There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know." Knowing how complex data management challenges have been resolved in telecom by means of advanced analytics will help bring smart grid benefits to utilities and consumers.
A portion of Southern California abruptly lost power on September 8, 2011, inconveniencing some 6 million people. Grid-related outages, not counting those affecting the distribution network during storms, hurricanes and tornadoes, occur with regularity and are more than mere annoyances.
Addressing Power Intermittency and Long-Distance Transmission with High-Temperature Superconductor Technology
As energy demand increases and electricity is sourced from alternative resources, grid modernization is a must. Integration of renewable energy into a growing power system brings a host of new challenges, some of which can be addressed with high-temperature superconductor technology.
Whether in the form of direct load control or real-time pricing, demand-side management should be an essential ingredient of the smart grid. To induce residential consumers to participate, energy companies may need to offer billing discounts and be sensitive to how electricity consumption preferences vary with time of day.
With much more comprehensive data and faster, denser communications, it is possible now to keep a much closer watch on volts and Vars (Volt-amperes reactive). The implications for grid stability and quality of service are more far-reaching than you might suppose.
The monitoring, optimization and control systems for smart grids will require computerized intelligent systems to handle the increased variability and uncertainties caused by increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy resources. What principles will govern the design of such systems and where do we find them?
Smart appliances are providing residential power consumers with insight into their energy use, facilitating energy-efficient and eco-friendly behavior. As such appliances become widespread, we may see residential consumers reduce demand on a large scale without being unduly inconvenienced.
A team at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has developed and tested advanced decision support tools for power system restoration based on adoption of a pre-formulated strategy with defined "milestones." System operators adopt a an approach for system restoration and identify markers along a path so that goals can be achieved efficiently.
Wireless sensor networks provide numerous opportunities for smart grid applications including demand-side energy management, power system monitoring, coordination of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and integration of renewable energy generators. Because of their low cost, intrinsic redundancy and ease-of-deployment, they will be useful on a large scale in power grids.
The usual smart grid vision implies a huge increase in the number of entities that will communicate and interact in both the distribution systems and bulk power operation. This requires new methods of management and system operation. But, we need not start from scratch. Tools developed to run competitive wholesale electricity systems provide useful models.
With grid monitoring systems in various areas already taking billions of data samples each day, and with the numbers sure to become even more gigantic in the near future, development of more sophisticated analytical methods for power system monitoring is imperative. Such work is proceeding apace in the context of the North American Synchrophasor Initiative, as well as at universities and research institutions.
Digital oilfield initiatives undertaken in the last decade have required oil and gas companies to confront a number of issues and challenges. Drivers of value and approaches to solutions are fundamentally similar to those in the smart grid.
While smart grid systems hold the promise of an electric grid with increased reliability and efficiency, they also increase the risk to the control systems from cyber attacks. Mitigating the risks from such attacks requires substantial changes to design and development processes so that security is built in from the ground up rather than addressed in a limited way as an afterthought.
The smart grid industry has had its ups and downs already: advances in smart meters followed closely by rising concerns over the security: innovative dynamic pricing rules accompanied by unexpected consumer backlash. Two recent developments, however, have been particularly startling.
If it's to be a boon rather than blight, the flood of data generated in the smart grid will need to be handled in standardized frameworks, providing not only for interoperability but for ongoing evaluation of possible conflicts between different component systems. Done right, the results will be more effective maintenance, higher reliability, better options for consumers, and ultimately a higher national good.
Connecting widely separated generation and loads by means of ultra-high-voltage transmission and adapting a relatively rigid generation structure to accommodate intermittent wind and solar necessarily take precedence in Chinese planning. But incorporation of digital communications into transmission also visualized under the rubric of what China is calling a "strong" smart grid.
Every day, our understanding of the smart grid as a "system of systems" evolves and improves and, therefore, so does the smart grid. Few things, if any, have helped foster our understanding more than the lessons learned through actual field deployments.
The Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse is a web portal for sharing and disseminating smart grid information, including background documents, deployment experiences, technologies, standards and on-going projects around the world. It is designed to serve as the first-stop shop for all smart grid information.
The urgent power system needs in India are not necessarily the same as those in advanced industrialized countries. The same goes for the most important power system constraints. Generally, not all smart grid technologies are equally relevant worldwide. In India, the really useful technologies will be those that help constrain peak demand and peak load growth at reasonable cost while cutting losses.
Over the years, electric utilities have piloted prodigious numbers of promising technologies, and yet they have deployed only a precious few. Many more technologies are ready for prime-time today but utilities and regulators will only adopt them if they are shown to be locally advantageous.
Inter-communicating devices and integrated Web-based services will open exciting opportunities. Smart appliances in smarter buildings will be linked in grids that can be more tightly monitored and regulated in real time. New communications protocols and software applications of fundamental importance are showing the way.
The Galvin Electricity Initiative is developing a seal of approval for smart grid projects modeled on the LEED program for green buildings and the EPA’s Energy Star program. The idea is to encourage project developers to keep customer satisfaction front and center.
Though utilities use only a fraction of the broadband capacity they install to support smart grid applications, it is relatively easy to justify investing in that capacity. If utilities were to lease fiber optic capacity to providers of general broadband services, companies in both sectors would benefit, and so would their customers.
Medium-term prospects for the smart grid will be among the key technology topics addressed next month at the IEEE's Technology Time Machine conference in Hong Kong. The purpose of the small and, frankly, elite meeting is to assemble people who are betting their corporate and national futures on when critical technologies will mature and take off. To judge from preliminary assessments laid out in a white paper prepared for the conference, some technologies, such as cloud computing, already are at a hockey-stick inflection point, while others, such as the so-called "Internet of Things," will reach that point in perhaps ten years' time. With the smart grid, due to immense technical challenges and acute engineering shortages, the inflection point may be closer to two decades away.
As operational and information technologies converge, enabling a much broader range of applications and opportunities than utilities traditionally have worried about, the premium will be on making systems multi-purpose and fully interoperable. That will require much more integrated, long-term planning on the part of energy companies.
Revised investment benefit numbers, which could be as high as $2.3 trillion for the United States, reflect a more expansive view of what the smart grid includes—and if the definition were even wider, the long-term benefits would be even greater.
The ratification of IEEE's standard for delivery of broadband communications over power lines stands to trigger higher-volume production of a host of suitable low-cost appliances and networking systems. This is especially significant at a time when the smart grid’s proponents are under increasing pressure to deliver results.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to renewable energy systems like wind generators or solar panel generation is the inability to schedule the wind and solar energy. Despite the difficulty, these intermittent sources need to be coordinated with the power system as more of them come online or go off line.
The IEEE P2030 Working Group's smart grid interoperability standard for IT operation and end-use applications has entered IEEE sponsor balloting. Its ratification as a standard—targeted for later this year—is only a hint of what power, communications and information technology (IT) engineers can accomplish when working together.
Right now, the US grid is actually three separate regional grids: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection and the Texas Interconnection—or ERCOT (for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas). A convergence of new technologies and developments in the US energy infrastructure is making it possible, for the first time, to seek to link the nation's three major electricity grids into a single, more resilient grid that can support more renewable power.
The estimation of measurement uncertainties in power flow analysis is not merely a challenging and interesting theoretical problem; it has important consequences for power system stability. Depending on which standardized procedures are followed, estimation of combined uncertainties can vary by a factor of almost two.
As both the Smart Grid and smart metering roll out across the country, the arrival of new technology innovations inevitably will change the expectations that both utilities and customers have of advanced metering.
Realizing an effective, efficient Smart Grid will require the time, effort and imagination of a wide range of individuals and organizations. Because of this complexity, there is a real risk that deployment of mission-critical infrastructures could be delayed. Stakeholders need concisely stated goals, objectives, and requirements written in simple, clear language; and accessible input and feedback channels.
Efforts to develop interconnection standards are almost unique to the United States, and so this is an area in which the world can learn from the United States experience. In other dimensions of the Smart Grid the United States may have something to learn.
Achieving targets for introduction of hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs) will depend not only on advancements in car technologies but also grid readiness. Key issues at the Smart Grid/electric vehicle interface are being aired in a wide range of IEEE publications.
Europe is ahead of the world's other highly industrialized areas in planning for the smart grid. A well-elaborated vision, developed in the framework of European Union institutions, anticipates that the traditional distinction between transmission and T&D will blur and disappear, and that the end-user will more and more become a "prosumer", producing as well as consuming energy locally. Europe's 2020 targets for renewable generation will only be achievable, in fact, if smart grid features are exploited to the fullest.
Capturing all the benefits of the smart grid will require vast amounts of information to be communicated, collected, and processed. It will only be manageable if some basic differences between types of data are recognized and respected. Some information needs to be consulted frequently and in large quantities, but only locally, by the consumer; other information can be broadcast.
Two world leaders in science and technology are joining forces to help the vision of a smart grid reach its fullest potential. Their program will draw sustenance from Korea's ambitious national goals for greenhouse gas emissions, green energy, and electric cars, and from pioneering efforts by Illinois in vehicular electrification and smart grid education.
Grid communications and control systems are often thought to be much more securely firewalled than is actually the case. An effective remedial program begins with a thorough and clear-eyed assessment of all vulnerabilities; especially to intrusion via the Internet. Creation of an adequate security system requires a management culture that demands and respects attentiveness to security among all employees.
Department of Energy data show that power outages have become more frequent and severe. What's more, as the grid becomes more interconnected and complicated, it also becomes more vulnerable to attack. Addressing those problems will be costly—but the payoff in terms of efficiency and energy savings will be huge.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter. The newsletter has a technical focus, taking into account the perspectives of both researchers and practicing engineers as the smart grid unfolds in all dimensions.
Elements of the smart grid already are widely deployed in commerce and industry. Experience in those sectors shows that as homes are equipped with communications to regulate energy use, it will be essential for consumers to own and control their detailed power data, and to have direct meter access.
The differences between the smart grid and the traditional grid are often described as high-tech versus low-tech. The real difference is between a highly optimized, slow-changing energy infrastructure and still developing, fast changing communications technologies. Integrating them is the challenge.
The networking technology giant believes that digital communications will best be integrated into the existing electric delivery system by means of a highly secure, open-standards-based Internet Protocol platform.