Our future grid will pull together a complex and far-flung set of technologies
The trouble with writing about the smart grid is that the news is moving so fast. Witness:
But this is all getting ahead of things. Round 1 of this series looked at why we need a smart grid. Round 2 will try to briefly answer the question, what is a smart grid? This question is a bit trickier to answer than you might think, much as the question “What is the internet?” is a bit more slippery than it first appears. Let’s let Tyler Hamilton take a crack at it:
The true vision of the smart grid is a self-healing, automated grid that can manage complex flows of electrons, from the hundreds — potentially thousands — of large and small sources of power to the millions of homes, businesses, industrial customers and, potentially, electric cars that require that energy.
Sounds good. The Department of Energy breaks this down a lot further, laying out no fewer than 60 specific technologies that fall under the smart grid label (big pdf). These can be loosely grouped into six intersecting categories:
Taken together, these features of a smart grid will facilitate both clean energy and energy efficiency, all while providing more reliable service.
At least, that’s the hope. A large number of companies, from start-ups to industry giants like IBM, are working feverishly to make it a reality.
Adam Stein is a co-founder of TerraPass. He writes on issues related to carbon, climate change, policy, and conservation.
Image credit: Flickr/C.P.Storm.
See more on "smart grids" in the Worldchanging archives:
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With all this talk of renewable energies...wind, solar, hydro, etc. Why can't we put serious efforts into fusion power? WE MUST!
Take a look at the MIT websites for more info.