Overview of Smart Grid Technology
Electricity is considered one of the basic needs of people, especially today wherein people’s lives revolve around technology. Almost all things work with the use of different devices and equipment to make our lives easier and convenient. Nevertheless, we’re all informed that power outage and electrical disruption are inevitable, it can happen later, tomorrow or the next day, we never can tell. This simple power disruption can affect peoples’ lives at work or even at home. So, people keep on discovering and inventing varieties of smart electrical equipment and devices to address such electricity failure and power outage.
The electrical grid is not only composed of one entity but multiple power generation companies and networks with the huge scale of operators and workforce to sustain the electric distribution throughout the community. However, due to the increase of power demand and shortfalls in power generation all over the world, developments were made to meet the needs of the community. Thus, ended up making a systematic method of distributing energy through the use of this so-called “Smart electrical grid”.
Over the years, the electric power system is rapidly but continuously evolving and due to the increasing demand for modern society, a new wave of electrical grid was employed. It is called “Smart Electrical Grid” this grid is highly comprised of advanced and smart digital technology to control, monitor and analyze the supply of an electric chain. Through its advanced technology, it can reduce the workforce and can provide safe, efficient, quality and reliable electricity to all valued consumers and communities. Aside from that, this smart grid can also reduce energy costs and electricity waste. Additionally, the smart electrical grid technology can also detect and isolates power outages, so it can minimize the effects of power outages in the community before it becomes wide rage blackouts. Or if power outages happen, it can easily route the electricity to emergency services to ensure that the electricity will quickly resume. It is also a great way to address ageing energy assets and infrastructure that needs to be upgraded for better performance. Moreover, it’s also a big aid to resolve energy efficiency since it brings awareness to the consumers about the real connection of the proper electricity usage to the environment—where renewable resources can be found.
Videos explaining Smart Grid: (overview)
What is Smart Electrical Grid?
A smart electrical grid is a combination of electrical network and digital smart communication technology which provides two-way communication between the utility provider and the end-consumers. Just like a computer, this electrical grid comprises a new set of different operational equipment and energy measures which includes smart appliances, automation, controls, smart meters, microgrids and other energy-efficient resources. Aside from providing a connection between utility and consumers, it’s also made for electric power production, conditioning and controlling electricity distribution on the community.
Moreover, the smart electrical grid provides electrical power from various and multiple distributed energy sources such as solar power systems, wind turbines and even vehicles with hybrid electric plug-ins.
With the use of this smart system, it is now easy for the power generation operators to determine the energy requirements of different zones including the availability of energy sources from each zone or area. This also increases the connection and coordination between the networks, suppliers and consumers through the use of digital automation that can also perform even in long-distance transmission and electrical distributions.
So far, a smart grid has more than 9,200 power generating units with over 1 million MW capacity connected to more than 300,000 miles of transmission lines.
History of Smart Electrical Grid
During the late 20th century, electric power generation began commercializing in the industry and the local grids are eventually interconnected for some economic and reliability reasons. Due to the revolution of the light bulb and the said advancement of electric motor, the demands for the electric power generation increased. This leads to the rapid development of the power distribution system. In the beginning, small power utility companies can only provide power to the local industrial plants and other private communities while others generate their electrical power. But this did not end there, since they are seeking greater and efficient power distribution, utility companies decided to pool all of their resources and started sharing and exchanging transmission lines with other regions to form electrical networks which are called “grids”.
The development rapidly increased as George Westinghouse introduced to the industry his hydroelectric power plant located in the Niagara falls. He was the first man to offer power over the long-distance regions by extending the range of his power plant positioning. As the power utility companies continued to expand, local grids also increased its connections to other grids and eventually formed the three national grids. The Western, Eastern and the Texas Interconnect were able to link themselves to form the so-called “national power grid”.
Through the 1951s to 1961s (post World War II), the technological improvements of the power grid system largely improved because of the computer controls, nuclear power and other technology developments. Whereas during the 1970s to 1990s, greater numbers of power stations were sprouting but in spite of this, there was still a shortage of electricity supply resulting in poor electrical power quality and blackouts, because of the highly increasing demand.
Also, automatic meter reading was used for monitoring power loads from large customers during the 1981s, and finally modified and evolved it into the Advanced Metering Infrastructure in the year 1991s. Smart meters were also used together with the automatic meter to make communications flow continuously so the monitoring can be done in real-time. Also, during the early 1991s wide area networks’ monitoring and synchronizing were revolutionized after Bonneville Power Administration decided to expand its smart grid research.
The development of the electrical power system continues over the past few years to meet the 21st-century technology standards and demands. With the help of today’s technology, the power grid becomes a smart electrical grid now, which can record, analyze and react to data transmission. Thus, making the power system and resources management efficient and more cost-effective for the end-consumers. In today’s century, China, Brazil and India, were seen as pioneer countries of smart grid deployment.
Smart Electrical Grid Components
A smart electrical grid will never be called “smart” if it doesn’t have a wide range of modernized technologies. So these technologies should be implemented along with this electrical grid.
Smart Power Meters
These Smart power meters provide two-way communication between the electric power providers and the end-user consumers to detect device and equipment failures so they can easily deploy repair crews to the exact location or area. Additionally, this can also provide an automated data collection’s billings for the consumers.
This includes monitoring critical and non-critical operational data control such as power status, transformer status, power factor performance, security, breaker, etc.
Substations are being used to transform voltage at certain times in different locations and areas. Providing end-user consumers with reliable, efficient and safe electrical power. It is also responsible for splitting the path of the electricity flow into several directions. The reason why it needs high quality and large equipment including network protected relays, transformers, capacitor banks, circuit breakers, switch and other pieces of equipment to operate.
Intelligent appliances can decide when to consume electrical energy through the customer’s pre-set preferences. This is done to reduce electrical peak loads so it can’t affect the consumer’s electricity generation costs.
It is considered as the key to smart electrical grid technology. Smart Grid communication uses different types of methods and software like Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), cellular, wireless and BPL to comply with the needs of the system, as fast as it can.
Super Conducting Cables
Whereas, these cables are used to give long-distance power transmission as well as providing automated monitoring and analyzing tools to predict and detect faults and failures on the device based on the power outage history and real-time data weather forecast.
Key Features of Smart Grid
- Smart – it can sense certain system overloads and rerouting the power grid to minimize potential blackouts or avoid potential power disruption in the areas.
- Green – it’s another purpose is to maintain the green-life here on Earth while providing efficient power grid distribution.
- Adaptable – it can virtually accept renewable energy from any sources like solar and wind, as well as integrating to other energy storage technologies.
- Reliable Service – it offers two-way communication between the individual user and utility providers. So consumers can easily determine their energy consumption and other concerns. Also, it encourages every consumer to participate in grid operations to reduce the consumer’s electricity bills.
- Decentralizing Power Generation – A decentralized or distributed power grid allows the consumer to generate their onsite grid by guiding them with the proper methods.
Smart Electrical Grid Porojects
Advanced Metering in Smart Distribution Grids
The main objective of this project is to advance the measurement science of the smart meter performance including the metering standards and test procedures to have an accurate and fair distribution of electricity metering needed for the smart grid.
Cybersecurity for Smart Grid Systems
This project aims to make advance development and standardization of Cybersecurity, including the measures, test procedures and methods, privacy and policy of the smart electric grid.
Wide-area Monitoring and Control of Smart Grid
This smart grid project focuses on the innovation and development of smart grid sensing systems like smart meters, current and voltage transformers, and PMUs to have a resilient, reliable, flexible and sustainable power grid through a comprehensive smart grid local-area and long-distant area monitoring and control.
Electricity Grid Infrastructure Enabling Peer-to-Peer Electricity Trade and Internet of Energy Applications
The main agenda of this project is to investigate the electrical infrastructure needed for P2P electricity trading. Including the compatible microgrid structures, smart metering and advanced power flow tracing algorithms to have an in-depth understanding of the social implications of this new technology.
Power Conditioning Systems for Renewables, Storage, and Microgrids
Its general aim is to support the widespread use of the new and advanced power electronics to provide an innovative and functional smart grid to integrate into the variable power resources. Through a microgrid power conditioning system and smart grid test.
Reviews: Smart Electrical Grid Technology
The Future of Energy: Smart Grid and the Industrial IoT
With the increase in consumers’ demands on renewable generation systems and power generation, utility providers are also doing their job to make a smarter power grid technology to meet every individual user’s and community’s needs.
From the Old Grid to Smart Grid: The Economic Impact on Electricity Customers
In this video content, the S&C Executive Chairman, John Estey tackles the economic impact of power outages in the community. He also compared the economic impact of an outage during the “old grid” era with today’s new smart grid.
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A smart grid is an electrical grid, that is digitally enabled to procure & distribute information in order to improve the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of electrical devices. It involves the application of digital processing and communications to the power grid. A smart grid replaces analog mechanical meters with digital meters that record usage in real time. It improves the electronic control, metering, and monitoring. It uses the smart meter, which is an electrical meter that records consumption of electricity and communicates that information for monitoring and billing purposes. These meters communicate continuously so that monitoring can be done real time.
One major benefit of the smart grid is its ability to enhance a utility’s capacity to connect with and empower its customers. A robust customer engagement platform is at the heart of that enhanced relationship, providing a multitude of ways to educate, entice, and excite customers. Today, consumers can take advantage of direct savings by better monitoring and controlling their energy usage. This will enable service providers to capitalize on new revenue and cost-saving opportunities.
Benefits of Using Smart grid Technology
The smart grid will make use of technologies that improve fault detection without the intervention of technicians. Thus there is more reliable supply of electricity, and reduced vulnerability to natural disasters or attack. Classic grids were designed for one-way flow of electricity. Smart grid technology enables distributed generation of energy flows & the systems can even control multiple energy flows from different sources. If a network generates more power than it is consuming, there can be a reverse flow, which can endanger safety and reliability. However, a smart grid is designed to minimize these situations. The overall effect is less redundancy in distribution lines, and greater utilization of energy flow, leading to lower power prices. Moreover customers can play an active role as both power consumer and power producer and can control their power consumption in a cost-optimized and environmentally responsible manner. When properly implemented, these technologies will increase efficiency in production, transport and consumption, improve reliability and economic operation, integrate renewable power into the grid, and increase economic efficiency through electricity markets and consumer participation.
Here is a list Of some of the Smart Grid Companies
ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. ABB operates in more than 100 countries. ABB is playing a fundamental role in the evolution of power systems. The most advanced smart grid technologies are in electrical transmission, and ABB is the market and technology leader in many of them – Flexible Alternating Current Transmission Systems (FACTS), High-voltage direct current (HVDC), Wide area monitoring systems (WAMS), Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA). ABB technologies, for smart distribution networks and buildings include smart meters, building automation systems, electric vehicle charging equipment, low-voltage solar inverters, high-efficiency distribution transformers; substation and feeder automation.
One of the biggest electrical and energy equipment suppliers in the world, the company provides energy efficiency solutions to residential market, buildings, Industry & Infrastructure, and data centres. The company’s range of services and products is quite awesome and provides a holistic solution to its customers. The company’s visualizes Smart Grid as a more complex, interconnected, and interactive model as compared to the traditional electrical network which was simple and linear & hence users will require connectivity, simplicity, and security & a reliable and safe energy source that guarantees optimal operation of their installations and equipment. Schneider Electric has the foresight, the offers, and the willpower necessary to be a major player within this energy revolution.
GE is one of the biggest players in the Green Industry globally. It generated $18 billion in Ecomagination revenues in 2009 with $1.5 Billion in Investment.General Electric like other industrial conglomerates like Siemens,Areva and others are in fact low risk plays in the Green Investing sector.GE is strong across most of the Green Sectors today particularly in the area of Smart Grid and Energy Efficiency. GE entered the Smart Meter market & with its overarching scale it has quickly won a number of contracts like the one with FPL.
Siemens is the world’s biggest Green Company reporting 28 Billion Euros from its Environmental Portfolio. Siemens has a dominating presence in Renewable Energy (Leading Position in Offshore Wind), Lighting (OSRAM), Green Building Solutions, Energy Transmission and Distribution. It has a massive technological advantages in Energy and Industrial Sectors which are not easy to replicate. Smart-Grid-solutions from Siemens blaze the trail to the future of the energy business. There are innovative technologies and services in the fields of IT, data communication, energy automation, and rail electrification. Many Siemens products and solutions already master tasks that are of great importance for Smart Grids. In the field of Smart Grid technologies, Siemens customers mainly include power producers, grid operators, industrial companies, multi-utilities, cities, and rail operators.
Itron is the leading provider of energy and water resource management solutions for nearly 8,000 utilities around the world. It offers end-to-end solutions that include electricity, gas, water and thermal energy measurement and control technology; communications systems; software; and professional services. With more than 9,000 employees doing business in 130 countries, Itron empowers utilities to responsibly and efficiently manage energy and water resources. Itron holds the top spot for market share in North America and worldwide. Its products and services include SmartMeters and GridRouters that immediately IP-enable the grid, software solutions and a host of other professional services for utilities and their customers. Very recently the company acquired SmartSynch. Very soon after this, Itron has also closed a major smart grid deal with Entergy Corporation, parent company to a handful of utilities bordering the Gulf Coast.
Silver Spring Networks
As a smart grid solutions company, it enables utilities to achieve operational efficiencies, reduce carbon emissions and empower their customers to monitor and manage their energy consumption. Its program enables consumers to download their detailed energy-usage information, enabling them to shift or lower their energy usage, save money, and reduce their environmental impact. Silver Spring Smart Energy Platform is the open, IP-based utility networking infrastructure that makes the smart grid possible. The company’s intelligent endpoints encompass electricity and gas meters equipped with network interfaces that link to both the utility and the home area network. These intelligent endpoints also include the bridges that relay communications from Distribution Automation (DA) devices.
Based in Sunnyvale, California the company is positioning itself as a provider of the underlying network infrastructure for community-wide networks of smart meters. Tropos Networks develops technology and products used to create reliable, secure and scalable wireless IP broadband networks for the Smart Grid and other outdoor industrial applications. The company was founded in 2000 & has more than 850 customers in over 50 countries. Very recently in January 2012, – Tropos Networks announced the Tropos 1410 wireless mesh router and wireless bridge for field automation applications. The new product line extends advanced enterprise-class security to utility and industrial applications that monitor and control field automation devices. Tropos offers two product variants in the new line, the Tropos 1410 and the board-level Tropos 1410-B. The Tropos 1410-B is a module suitable for integration into Smart Grid devices such as smart transformers and intelligent electrical devices as well as into a wide range of industrial process controllers and SCADA devices.
Tendril delivers end-to-end consumer engagement products, applications and services powered by Tendril Connect – an open & secure medium that takes the complexities out of the Energy system and creates a communication channel between energy service providers and their customers. The company is based in Boulder, CO. It allows its customers to manage their energy usage and costs. As the foundation for the connected home, the Tendril Connect platform helps product and service providers to better address consumer needs, provide simple and flexible solutions. It has recently landed a multi year deal with with Houston-based Reliant, which will enable it to sell ‘ various devices into homes in the markets served by that giant utility.
Enables its customers and utilities to manage and monitor a smart grid or smart home network with the help of its products & services. These solutions utilize high speed, standards-based communications to provide the most reliable energy data communication networks. It thus enables energy management and utility operations in real time. Nexgrid is a manufacturer and integrator of self-managing devices that offer unrestricted monitoring and control of metering. Nexgrid’s customers include utility companies, consumers, and systems integrators. Nexgrid’s solutions deliver considerable amount of savings. Nexgrid products are designed to provide the most future proof smart grid network. This is accomplished through standards-based real-time two way communication for the management, monitoring, and control of the electric distribution grid.
BPL Global Ltd.
The Pittsburgh-based company was founded in the year 2004. The company provides software solutions and services to electric utilities, enabling an intelligent grid to efficiently manage demand, integrate distributed energy resources, improve service reliability, and optimize cost and capital productivity. BPL Global works together with local utilities, internet service providers, equipment suppliers and financiers to create end-to-end solutions. It thus integrates the best options in software, communications, hardware and managed services. Since they are a part of the clean technology sector, their applications provide a coordinated, intelligent grid to deliver energy more efficiently for a cleaner & greener environment.
Located in Bloomington, MN, is a leading provider of meter data management software solutions and decision management technologies. It transforms volumes of AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) data for electric, natural gas, and water utilities into valuable information that can be used by the entire organization to make quality business decisions. Meter Data Management System software that is used by the company permits a utility to separate the collection of meter data from its use.
Based in Arlington, VA, GridPoint was founded in 2003. offers an open software platform for distributed energy systems. It provides real time load management, integrated software for renewable energy & grid, software to manage the two-way power flow and energy storage integration. The company is known for demonstrating various Smart Grid technologies and wiring up the city of Boulder, to a smart grid.
TechNavios analysts forecast the Global Smart Grid market to grow at a CAGR of 20.5 % over the period 2011-2015. The Global Smart Grid market has also been witnessing rising demand for energy. However, lack of strong interoperability of standards could pose a challenge to the growth of this market. Visiongain calculates that global smart grid market in 2012 will total $33.91bn.
According to GBI Research, a leading business intelligence provider the cumulative number of units installed in – the American smart meters market is expected to grow from 18.34 million units in 2010 to 133.82 million units in 2020 at a CAGR of 22% & those in the in-home displays market is expected to grow from 142,000 units in 2010 to 20,367,073 units in 2020 at a CAGR of 64.3%. The US long term goal for smart grid technology is to reduce the energy demand by 20% by 2030. The cumulative number of smart meter units installed in Europe is expected to grow from 7.6 million units in 2010 to 105.99 million units in 2020 at a CAGR of 30.2%. The smart grid market in China is also witnessing emerging trends & innovative technology. The big energy companies have taken a plunge into the smart grid technology, which proves that it is very promising. Global companies like ABB, GE, Schneider & Siemens offer an array of products & services in this segment helping their customers to be more smart, making the industry more efficient & in turn creating a cleaner & greener environment.
Smart Grid Industry
To modernize the electric power grid, a major overhaul will be required to significantly move from the old & outdated model to the smart grid companies. This massive re-engineering project will create significant investment opportunities.
Smart grid companies that have established themselves in key smart grid related industries will have an abundance of business opportunities. The government of America plans to distribute up to $11 billion to smart grid companies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help move the effort forward. There have been More Smart Grid M&A in the recent times. Cisco goes all out to win the Smart Grid Market through Alliance with No.1 Smart Meter Maker Itron and Alta Rock Acquisition. The market is also picking up though gradually in India.
Some of the major key players working on Smart Grid in India are Capgemini, HCL Infosystems,General electric, Power Grid, Larsen & Toubro, ABB, CISCO, IBM, Infosys, Siemens, Schneider electric etc. Smart Grid as a Clean Technology Industry is gaining traction in the West and countries like China, South Korea.
Given how controversial smart meter rollouts have become of late, what are the optimum sites for smart grid initiatives?
Ideally, you’d look for something that’s self-contained and with a population that’s localized and small enough to keep the costs of comprehensive updates relatively low. If that sounds like a university, you’re on the same page as UCLA, whose Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC) just got another boost in its goal to make the university’s sprawling campus a model smart grid paradise.
“UCLA is like a little city — Pasadena, Burbank and Glendale are not much bigger,” Rajit Gadh, the director of SMERC and an engineering professor who specializes in wireless smart-grid technology, said in a release. “With a city like UCLA, we can test our concepts very quickly, as well as conduct very interesting tests.”
SMERC is already funded by the Energy Department and the L.A. Department of Water and Power. This week, it announced that it had finalized a 10-year partnership with the Korea Institute of Energy Research, a government-supported think tank in South Korea, to swap ideas and research to build a baseline for an international smart grid.
As part of the plan, Gadh’s group is retrofitting buildings on the UCLA campus — starting with the engineering department, naturally — with metering and sensor systems. The project is aimed at moving past residential smart meters toward testing sensor networks for coordinating the usage of all electric devices. By testing at the full-building scale, Gadh and SMERC hope to iron out the bugs in networked smart grid systems.
The cornerstone is Gadh’s WINSmartGrid network platform. It’s being developed as an all-inclusive platform to wirelessly monitor and control appliances, environmental and HVAC systems and EVs. The whole thing is run through a web service that cross-indexes usage data with feeds from utilities on the price of power throughout the day. In theory, it’s a way to automatically balance a building’s electricity needs with a utility’s flexible pricing scheme.
San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) and Sudberry Properties have announced plans to incorporate breakthrough smart grid technology in the construction of Civita, the new master-planned development in Mission Valley, California. With a focus on sustainability and energy-efficiency, the “smart energy community“ will be home to vehicle charging stations, solar and fuel cell electricity, battery storage and energy management tools for residents.
“The Civita project is consistent with what we are trying to achieve here in San Diego,” said Mayor Jerry Sanders. “By integrating solar power, clean transportation and energy efficiency into the very foundations of our homes and businesses, we can help preserve the environment while strengthening our community overall.”
With plans to build nearly 5,000 homes and around a million square feet of office properties, apartment living, public parks, and a civic center over a once 230 acre gravel quarry, Civita could become one of the first communities in the nation to be “fully upgraded with smart grid technology and stand at the forefront of the broader transformation of the electric grid the community.” Civita aims to surpass current California energy efficiency standards by at least 15 percent by using energy star appliances, highly efficient residential lighting and onsite power sources, and by allowing some buildings and areas within community to operate independently of the grid.
This commentary was originally posted on the EDF California Dream 2.0 Blog.