Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
The creation of a smart grid of energy producers, distributors and consumers will undoubtedly be at the center of a sustainable future. Similarly using information and communications technology (ICT) to extend the benefits of urban living to outlying areas will become a much larger business opportunity.
Cisco is one company envisioning that the same principles of sustainability that will reshape the power grid will also be applied to essential services including health care, education, and municipal services.
IBM, AT&T, GE and Siemens also have designs on capturing a share of this market.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009
Turning the country’s vast islands of proprietary utility networks and isolated power equipment into an intelligent grid that manages the power going into homes, offices and factories will take decades and hundreds of billions of dollars. IBM is partnering with veteran energy efficiency and grid communications company Trilliant to ensure that the companies’ grid hardware and software will speak the same language.
The agreement to integrate IBM’s Websphere and Tivoli products for managing enterprise data into Trilliant’s smart grid communications system provides utilities with and end-to-end system for collecting information and administering grid operations.
Trilliant, which currently has more than 200 utility customers, provides technology that can relay information about power consumption and network performance from smart meters in homes, to utility equipment out in the field such as transformers and substations, and then on to centralized (head end) utility servers. The company will build its management system using Websphere’s application server and the Tivoli network management suite.
Monday, August 24th, 2009
Some projects are just too big to let the private sector handle them alone. Updating our aging one-way system of centralized power production to a smart grid is one of those projects. Left mostly to its own initiative, the energy industry has done very little in technology innovation during the past fifty years to make the grid more efficient and to accommodate distributed power production.
The need is so clear that even a group that supports limited government agrees that building a smart grid that conserves energy, integrates renewables, and diminishes peak power requires the guiding hand of the federal government.
The Lexington Institute has published a paper that neatly summarizes the smart grid challenges, and concludes that “Just as the grid of today required presidential initiative, the smart grid will take a high-level policy push, too.” The public policy research group, which says it “actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation,” adds that “Smart grid will most likely require federal, state and local government incentives” and that “Policy action is worthwhile to move promising technologies closer to full adoption.”
Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Imagine directing traffic in Manhattan when the power is out, no one knows how to find the bridges or tunnels, and most of the drivers are speaking different languages. That scenario is similar to what smart grid company Gridpoint is up against in building software than will enable electric vehicles, charging equipment, utilities and grid operators to all get along.
Gridpoint is developing version 3 of its Smart Charging software (due to ship to customers in September) that will schedule and monitor vehicle charging while keeping track of the grid’s health. The software includes tools that enable utilities to understand how vehicles individually and in aggregate are impacting power demand. Utilities can compare recent vehicle demand on the grid with what would have happened with no control over vehicle charging to see how well their attempts at shifting the load are doing. The Smart Charging software also provides day-ahead demand projections based on previous charging data.
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
It is understandable why some utilities might be hesitant to embrace smart grid technology. It’s expensive (Repower America says implementation will cost upwards of $400 billion) and at the same time will reduce their ability to sell their core product (energy).
Getting the utilities and regulatory agencies on board requires ample amounts of carrots (financial incentives) and sticks (limiting carbon emissions), according to energy efficiency experts Portland Energy Conservation Inc (PECI).
PECI’s new report “Wiring the Smart Grid for Energy Efficiency goes into deeply depressing detail about the many formidable challenges to implementing the smart grid. Among the toughest to tackle are that buildings are ill-equipped to participate in demand response systems, and the near total lack of interoperability today between grid equipment and building energy management tools. There’s also a lack of university and professional training programs to fill the gaping hole in HVAC engineers who can maximize energy efficiency programs.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
The Smart Grid is coming, but most people around the country are not aware of what it is or what it means to them. If a key goal of the Smart Grid is ultimately energy conservation, the Grid’s very success will be dependent upon consumer awareness and support.
The Smart Grid will bring exciting improvements to our utility infrastructure such as more reliable power delivery and options for renewable power. The new Grid will provide other benefits including peak load management for utilities and energy storage capabilities. For consumers, this will also mean the installation of a Smart Meter, an improvement on traditional electric meters designed to communicate power usage between the consumer and their utility and enable consumers to reduce their bills by managing consumption, at least in the long run. Stimulus funding will help pay for some of the development, but consumers will still need to cover more than a fair share. (more…)
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
Updating my previous post, VP Biden announced plans to distribute more than $3.3 billion in smart grid technology development grants and an additional $615 million for smart grid storage, monitoring, and technology viability late last week.
The announcement comes with mixed reviews, including warnings that the $20 million cap on grant awards ($40 million with matching funds) is too small to incentivize large and medium IOUs to deploy smart meters. This post notes that Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity is a $100 million dollar project on it’s own and involves only a single city.
Monday, April 13th, 2009
With specific dollar allocations published for Conservation Block Grants, $780 million released for energy efficiency and Weatherization (more to come), and grant announcements worth $2.4 billion for next generation electric vehicles issued, the first wave of DOE stimulus has come and gone.
In its wake, state, city, and county energy offices, agencies, commissions and departments are scrambling to make sense of how to funnel additional money into their respective jurisdictions. This includes readying Strategic Energy Plans for SEP program approval and drafting State Comprehensive Applications for the remaining Weatherization funds, as well as exploring potential partnerships and programs to win highly competitive grants for additional projects.
Monday, March 2nd, 2009
The US electrical grid is a century-old “machine” built for a singular purpose: to power the development and industrialization of the nation’s economy. It is designed to deliver electrons from centralized power producing plants through transmission wires to end consumers. This archaic, unidirectional architecture is unreliable, inefficient, and unsafe.
Using many of the same technologies and assumptions first implemented in the 19th century, today, the grid must keep up with rising demand which outstrips available generating capacity and technological advancements designed to make the grid “smarter“.
Monday, February 2nd, 2009
The Internet revolutionized the world of computing – it took us from a world of large centralized mainframe computers with terminals attached to a world of any-to-any connectivity. The Internet evolved from a military need for survivability; by having a mesh of network nodes that could instantly re-route traffic around outages, it could sustain failures but continue to perform. Distributed generation, referred to as “DG” in industry speak, is essentially the “Internet of Energy” by producing electricity from many small energy sources.