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.
Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
According to the EIA’s Annual World Energy Outlook 2008, total electricity usage in the world is supposed to approach 203 million GWh by 2030 across all sectors- residential, commercial and industrial. This number translates to a growth rate of 1.6 percent per year. Additionally, the last infrastructure report from the American Society for Civil Engineers downgraded the U.S. national power grid from a D+ to a D rating (on an A-F grading scale) and Europe also recognized the necessity to upgrade its transmission capabilities given infrequent, yet serious blackouts in the last few years. While most if not all agree that cleaner sources of energy are imperative, it is indisputable that that significant “gains” can be achieved through conservation and efficiency improvements. As the load demand reaches grid capacity in many areas, this is where some of the “low-hanging fruit” will be found.
Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
It seems new smart technologies emerge by the day: smart plug-in cars, smart dishwashers, smart coffeemakers… The future will be Green, no doubt about it! For all the praises I have for the engineers and scientists that make it happen, I believe that this is the easy part of making the power grid smart. Implementation of the transformation will be the hard one.
Scale is an obvious challenge. Developed countries’ power grids have been built all along the 20th century, requiring titanic levels of investments. Upgrades, retrofits and greenfield additions will require a comparable level of efforts. And time. Lots of it. For utilities, short term means 5 years. For my generation of impatient go-getters, used to have everything a click away, grasping this relation to time is a challenge.