Friday, June 20, 2014
Germany''s solar efforts emphasize importance of grid communications
Imagine what the utility grid will look like in 10 years and your mind will probably conjure up images of solar panels, wind farms, biofuel and other renewables being used to create the energy that gets delivered to homes. On the source, this sounds simple enough, but the transition away from traditional power plants to natural gas and variable renewable generation methods creates a sea change in how utility companies operate.
Network functionality will play a central role in the future of the energy grid, making serial to Ethernet terminal servers and fiber to Ethernet media converters key contributors to the grid. The importance of these tools is clearly evidenced in recent record breaking efforts in the German solar industry.
Solar power thriving in Germany
Solar energy has been part of Germany's energy strategy for a while now as capacity has risen gradually for a while in the nation. As such, new records should not be surprising. However, the scale of solar power generation is. A recent study fromFraunhofer ISE found that three solar power generation records were broken in Germany during the first two weeks of June. One of those records was dealt with in just an hour. Between 1 and 2 p.m. on the second Monday in June, solar panels created approximately 23.1 gigawatts of energy, enough to power 50.6 percent of the country.
In an E&E News report analyzing the study,Tobias Rothacher at Germany Trade & Invest explained that energy storage systems will be key to unlocking the full potential of the record-breaking solar power generation happening in the nation.
"Nowadays we also need fossil fueled power plants in case the weather is not so good," Rothacher told the news source. "Over time, we need to have more flexibility, and that means we need to store this [solar] electricity."
The network's role in making the most of variable renewable power generation
The problem with using energy storage and other advanced technologies to support variable renewable generation sources is that utility providers rarely actually own the generation sites. Instead they partner with generation sites and use smart meters to access detailed information about user requirements. Moving forward, utilities are increasingly going to need to use predictive analytics to identify power demands at any time, figure out how much energy they can get from various renewable generation partners, smoothly manage distribution throughout the grid, store excess power and release stored energy at the right times.
The network will play a central role in interconnecting all of these grid stakeholders and making sure utility providers can get the data they need to support sophisticated operations.
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