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The Importance of Smart Grids

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Sukhjit Singh


Written by: Sukhjit Singh, Richard Fu                

                With the increased reliance on technology, the efficiency of usage becomes a large issue that must be looked at. A proposed solution would be the a ‘smart grid’ with the Internet of Things. According to Professor Ferguson of the University of the District of Columbia in 2016, as a general matter, the concept behind the Internet of Things is quite simple: objects embedded with identifiers or recognizable by sensors seeking to collect the information. Networks of ‘intelligent’ or ‘enchanted’ objects will be developed to improve consumer, commercial, health, and other needs. Whether it is a pill bottle that reminds you to take your medicine, a refrigerator that automatically orders milk when you run out, or tires that alert you before they become deflated, objects will collect and share data in an effort to be more efficient or user-friendly to their owners. This data can be locally stored, 2 wirelessly shared, or centrally collected through internet applications to allow monitoring of the relevant information. These can be done by building and improving on smart grids.

               According to the National Energy Technology Laboratory in 2010, today’s grid needs to be upgraded because it is aging, inadequate, and outdated in many respects. Investment is needed to improve not only its material condition, but also to ensure adequate capacity exists. This allows it to address the 21st century supply challenges. A solution to the aging grid would be the ‘smart grid’ with the Internet of Things.

               The US Department of Energy defines a smart grid as a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century using computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing that has been used for decades in other industries. They are beginning to be used on electricity networks, from the power plants and wind farms all the way to the consumers of electricity in homes and businesses. They offer many benefits to utilities and consumers – mostly seen in big improvements in energy efficiency on the electricity grid and in the energy users’ homes and offices.

               The smart grid would additionally benefit the economy by creating jobs. According to National Energy Technology Laboratory, a smart grid would cause the creation of new jobs – KEMA reported in 2008 that implementation of the smart grid could create 280,000 new jobs and that half of those jobs would persist following implementation to support its ongoing operation and maintenance for the United States alone.

               The National Energy Technology Laboratory reported that a smart grid would cause a downward pressure on prices. This is achieved through improved operating and market efficiencies, reduced supply cost resulting from peak reductions, consumer involvement, and deferral of future capital projects. Overall, markets will be more efficient, resulting in the economically correct prices for electricity, which are expected to be less than they would have been without the capabilities of the smart grid.

               Additionally, the smart grid would allow the economy to grow. The demand for new products and services will be created. These would include the services to build the smart grid, but also to support consumers who wish to participate in it. Distributed generation and storge devices, home networks, smart appliances, new software applications that support consumer convenience, and energy management features are just a few that come to mind.

               With these in mind, a smart grid would lead to the creation of new electricity markets, enabling society to offer its electricity resources to the market and creating the opportunity to earn a revenue stream on investments, such as demand response.

               Lastly, a smart grid would lead to the reduction in the number of injuries and deaths associated with the public’s contacts with grid assets. The self-healing feature of the smart grid includes the intelligence to ensure the safety of grid workers and the general public. Improved monitoring and decision support systems will quickly identify problems and hazards. The ability to identify equipment that is on the verge of failure is certain to save lives and reduce severe injuries.

            The increased efficiencies of the market, as well as energy usage, combined with increased public safety all contribute to the reasons to implement smart grids in our daily lives.  


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