Intelligence to the Grid
If you were to visualize
the current grid, you might look at it as a star, with energy
and information flowing in one direction from the center—from
utilities to end users. The smart grid of the future will
reflect the way we live today. It will act much more like
an interactive web, or “energy Internet,” with
two-way communication, multi-directional power flow, and closed-loop
automation at its core.
What is the smart grid?
smart grid marries information technology with our current
electrical infrastructure, helping us support the energy needs
of our 21st Century society. The smart grid is, in essence,
an “energy Internet,” delivering real-time energy
information and knowledge—empowering smarter energy
Considering the energy challenges we currently face, we must
find a way to do more with less—and quickly. This is
the role for a smarter grid, which:
- Enables the integration and optimization of more renewable
energy (such as wind and solar) and plug-in electric vehicles.
- Drives significant increases in the efficiency of our
- Empowers consumers to manage their energy usage and save
money without compromising their lifestyle.
Smart grid technologies provide utilities and consumers
with real-time knowledge and decision-making tools that will
empower them to save energy, resources, money, and the environment.
The smart grid is not a product, but rather a collection of
hardware and software that works together to make today’s
grid, well, smarter.
Think about how you used computers before the Internet. They
were useful, yes, but isolated. With the growth of the Internet,
all the computers in the world could be easily linked, allowing
for better communication, information sharing, and data transfer.
The Internet turned a regular computer into a much more powerful
The same is true of the smart grid. Overlaying the current
power infrastructure with smart grid technology is like connecting
the Internet to the computer, making an already useful machine
much better and providing people with information to make
intelligent decisions. Similarly, the smart grid, or the “energy
Internet”, empowers consumers, businesses and utilities
to make smarter energy choices.
Key Components of Smart Grid
The smart grid will include automation software and intelligent
electronic hardware systems that control the transmission
and distribution grids. Smart grid automation technologies
— such as energy
management systems and distribution
management systems — help provide real-time knowledge
and control over the distribution and transmission grids.
Most utilities today operate with a relatively smart transmission
grid enabled by Energy Management Systems (EMS), which
provide real-time information on the grid’s status,
helping utilities automate various grid functionalities remotely.
technology helps utilities:
- Choose the best, most affordable generation mix (known
as economic dispatch),
keeping costs lower for consumers and businesses.
- Reduce losses and waste in the delivery of power to drive
a more efficient system.
- Maintain system reliability to help ensure a steady supply
of power to customers