Virtual power plants (VPPs) rely upon software systems to remotely and automatically dispatch and optimize generation or demand-side or storage resources in a single, secure web-connected system. In the U.S., VPPs not only deal with the supply side, but also help manage demand and ensure reliability of grid functions through demand response (more…)
The consumer face of the Smart Grid looks like you and me. It is tall and short, conservative and liberal, lazy and driven. In short, it is everyone, which means that it can be both random and ordered depending on changing conditions, geographic realities, and discordant behavioral patterns.
Capitalizing on Smart Grid opportunities in the residential consumer market means finding order and predictability across a wide range of variables: different ecosystems, temperature variation, number of people living under one roof, behavioral patterns, etc. Currently, data is measured home-to-home, which means that fine-grained details under the roof are usually unaccounted for.
If Internet companies and some utilities have their way, the smart grid will rely on the existing infrastructure of the information superhighway in order to function. They argue that by relying on existing standards like Internet Protocol (IP), the smart grid will grow faster and more organically than if utilities adopt an assortment of proprietary methods. Issues like security become easier to address too because the Internet manages exceptionally sensitive data quite well with existing technologies. To that end, the players dominating in the Internet arena including Google, Microsoft, and Cisco are all banking on the Internet’s role in the future of electricity management.
The high tech industry will play a significant role in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as long as the Internet remains a level playing field. The opportunities for software companies to innovate in the energy generation and energy efficiency sectors are substantial if the priority of traffic over the Internet remains neutral (i.e., the FCC adopts net neutrality rules).
The smart grid is the main prerequisite to the Internet’s involvement in energy. The Obama Administration recently announced $3.4 billion in the development of the smart grid and related technologies. Much of these funds went directly to utilities to provide smart meters in homes and businesses. Southern California Edison has already started its rollout of smart meters under a program called SmartConnect; they hope to have 5 million smart meters active by 2012.
Did you know that America’s largest installed solar power plant is located on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada? The 14-megawatt solar array (shown at left) went live in late 2007 and remains the largest solar power plant in the United States.
While First Solar’s recent announcement of two 250-megawatt solar power plants in California dwarfs the military’s solar array, the fact remains that for a considerable amount of time the military will have operated the largest solar array in the United States. Why would the military take this step? The answer is energy security.
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.