Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Smart grid technologies paying off in unusual environments
Smart grid contains a unique capacity to combine data gathering with power delivery that allows the network to track environmental and operational conditions within an area. This allows utility providers to identify the specific use requirements of different residents and optimize electricity deployment to those needs. This capacity is especially evident in a recent project by Carnegie Mellon University's Electric Energy Systems Group, which is directed by Marija Ilic.
According to a recent North American Wind Power report, the EESG recently completed a large-scale research project that led to substantial innovation in how electricity can be effectively delivered to remote islands that experience frequent heavy winds.
The news source explained that the EESG established monitoring, load management and other smart grid systems on Flores and San Miquel, two of nine volcanic islands in a chain approximately 900 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal. The solution tracked power deliver, environmental conditions and other attributes of the utility grid within the two islands.
The problem in this chain of islands, and many similar locations around the world, is that heavy gusts of wind can make consistent power delivery a major challenge for utility providers. The research found that a fully-equipped smart grid system can be used to properly store power and regulate delivery in such a way that reliable delivery can be ensured. Furthermore, Ilic told the news source that using wind turbines in conjunction with smart grid can create a resilient utility system that can work effectively on windswept islands.
Remceo Verzijlbergh, a team member from Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, told the news source that turbines can dramatically reduce emissions in windy climates.
"In the islands with extreme wind penetration, the CO2 emissions can be drastically reduced - up to 80 percent of today's typical emission level - with the same or lower long-term electricity cost and reliable service," Verzijbergh told North American Wind Power.
Wind energy and other renewable electrical resources, such as solar power, are difficult to use for utility systems and other large scale deployments, including data centers. Such forms of electricity do not deliver a consistent enough level of power for such environments. However, smart grid is unlocking the potential of renewable energy because it allows the utility system to store and manage power delivery so efficiently the inherent flaws of wind and solar energy are overcome.
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