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Smart grid has diverse uses

By Donna Donnawitz
May 3, 2012
Smart grid technologies are revolutionizing the global power grid, helping consumers and utility providers become more aware of energy usage patterns. By making real-time data about electricity use available, smart grid allows utility providers to not only manage energy use more effectively, but also deploy more innovative methods of power generation and distribution. The innovation enabled by smart grid is considerable, and is clear in a few projects highlighted by the Smart Grid News.

The first project will take place in Cambridge, England, where the report said the municipality is working to create the world's first network in white space, which is unused wireless network bandwidth. The city of Cambridge will work to tap into these network resources to enable better communication throughout the smart grid and also implement other intelligent appliances throughout the city to support environmental efficiency initiatives. Currently, the white space network is being used to supplement other smart grid systems.

Another non-traditional smart grid deployment highlighted by the news source is a private setup by Custom Building Technologies, a California-based manufacturing company. The organization was struggling to respond to a new dynamic pricing model that made costs unpredictable and limited the facility's efficiency. By implementing an internal smart grid program supported by automation technologies, the manufacturing organization has not only reduced its power consumption, but has also been able to respond to power demands more effectively.

Microgrids are another rising smart grid trend, and a recent project in India is showcasing the technology's potential. According to the report, the microgrid is solving electricity distribution in rural parts of the country, where power is not readily available, allowing residents to tap into solar power to meet their day-to-day needs. The microgrid is able to better control power distribution, allowing solar energy to function as a workable solution.

Solar and wind power, two of the most readily available renewable energy resources, have considerable potential, and smart grid is unlocking the possible gains. The two power formats deliver energy inconsistently based on the amount of light available and how windy it is on any given day. This makes the renewable resources difficult to use at a large scale. However, smart grid allows for more controlled energy distribution, overcoming the inherent weaknesses in the two renewable resource formats and making sustainability more achievable.

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