Do you know about Smart Grid?
The electric grid delivers electricity from points of generation to consumers, and the electricity delivery network functions via two primary systems: the transmission system and the distribution system. The transmission system delivers electricity from power plants to distribution substations, while the distribution system delivers electricity from distribution substations to consumers. The grid also encompasses myriads of local area networks that use distributed energy resources to serve local loads and/or to meet specific application requirements for remote power, village or district power, premium power, and critical loads protection.
A smart grid includes an intelligent monitoring system that keeps track of all electricity flowing in the system. It also incorporates the use of superconductive transmission lines for less power loss, as well as the capability of integrating alternative sources of electricity such as solar and wind. When power is least expensive a smart grid could turn on selected home appliances such as washing machines or factory processes that can run at arbitrary hours. At peak times it could turn off selected appliances to reduce demand.
In the US, the city of Austin, Texas has been working on building its smart grid since 2003, when its utility first replaced 1/3 of its manual meters with smart meters that communicate via a wireless mesh network. It currently manages 200,000 devices real-time (smart meters, smart thermostats, and sensors across its service area), and expects to be supporting 500,000 devices real-time in 2009 servicing 1 million consumers and 43,000 businesses. Boulder, Colorado completed the first phase of its smart grid project in August 2008. Both systems use the smart meter as a gateway to the home automation network (HAN) that controls smart sockets and devices. Some HAN designers favor decoupling control functions from the meter, out of concern of future mismatches with new standards and technologies available from the fast moving business segment of home electronic devices.
Hydro One, in Ontario, Canada is in the midst of a large-scale Smart Grid initiative, deploying a standards-compliant communications infrastructure from Trilliant. By the end of 2010, the system will serve 1.3 million customers in the province of Ontario. The initiative won the “Best AMR Initiative in North America” award from the Utility Planning Network.
A smart grid architecture relies on technologies of design and procurement to manage an energy system and automatically track usage. The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provide financial incentives to utilities and enterprises to encourage the development of capabilities that make the use of electricity more efficient and greener.
The electrical grid, which includes electric generation, transmission, distribution and electricity use, is the major contributor of pollution in North America. Production of electricity emits greenhouse gases into the environment, thus contributing heavily to global warming. Many countries, including the United States, are in the process of developing standards to produce clean energy.
By going green using an automated, digital grid, countries can reduce pollution with a more efficient operation. Among the benefits are reduced costs, energy savings, enhanced reliability, more efficient demand response, and the ability to use renewable energy. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, the modernization of electrical grids in the country with smart technology would save between $46 billion and $117 billion over the next 20 years.
Smart grid architecture helps companies and other enterprises become more energy efficient by enabling interaction throughout the entire infrastructure, including electric generation, delivery and consumption components. Energy management software is the key to saving energy and reducing costs because it automatically monitors real time energy use, weather data, and other critical systems across the entire enterprise. This smart technology enables businesses to procure the best energy rates for their sites.
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