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New smart grid project coming to Hawaii

By Donna Donnawitz
February 6, 2012
The Hawaii Electric Company and Honeywell recently announced plans to collaborate on a smart grid project that would simultaneously advance the technology's role in the island state's utility grid while exploring the relationship between smart grid and renewable resources, North American Wind Power reported.

Wind power and other forms of renewable electricity resources are somewhat flawed because they typically feature intermittent energy waves that make it difficult to align distribution with actual power needs. This makes them inadequate for many continuous functions, such as data center power. According to the news source, the project in Hawaii is designed to experiment with how smart grid's added control of the utility system can be used to overcome this weakness and make renewable energy resources more productive.

To make this pilot program possible, the utility company will use a technology known as fast demand response. The report explained this system combines monitoring devices with robust network infrastructure to create a system that constantly evaluates the supply and demand conditions within the utility network. When combining that with smart grid's ability to track power usage trends and prepare for spikes and other similar issues, the fast demand response solution is able to help utility providers recognize when an imbalance between supply and demand is imminent and respond to the problem within 10 minutes.

This type of program is essential when dealing with renewable power resources, especially wind energy, as it provides the infrastructure necessary to deal with inconsistent periods of delivery. Scott Seu, vice president of energy resources at the Hawaii Electric Company, told the news source success within this program could make renewable energy much more viable as a source of consistent power.

"Increasing renewable energy requires new and more advanced methods of managing reliability, especially given the variable nature of wind and solar. This project will lay the groundwork for new programs to advance a clean energy future for Hawaii," Seu told the news source.

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