What will be after smart grid?
Digitalization reinvents everything around us. We determine the weakest spots, gather data, and fix the issue using the latest technology. Power grid as it is today is inefficient and outdated. Learn how new technologies reinvent energy provision and distribution.
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The traditional grid was designed for the times when we would rely on the power plants only. It was a good solution in fossil fuels era. However, there are several issues that will be tackled with new smart technologies. First challenge is an inefficient distribution. In the traditional grid, the distribution of electricity goes only one way: from power plant towards end consumer. When electricity travels by grid from A to B, it loses up to 80% of its initial power on its way. In this ecosystem, the power plant is a central element. Further, the grid itself is already over 50 years old. It is vulnerable to malicious acts of terror and natural disorders. One ripped cable may unplug several cities for hours and days. The traditional grid has a slow response and focused on outages than power quality. Throughout its existence, limited wholesale markets are still looking for better-operating models. Also, due to its' characteristics, the traditional grid has minimal integration of limited operational data with Asset Management processes and technologies. All those challenges will be solved with a reconstruction of the industry - Smart grid.
Smart grid is a combination of intelligent electronic devices, smart meters, data analysis, various sources of energy, decentralized system, which serves to the customers. Smart grid reforms hierarchical distribution and monopolistic approach in a more efficient system. Smart grid can transfer electricity both ways making distribution system operators central to this transformation. The loss of electricity in such system is times lower. Utilizing data from the sensors, modern grid can automatically detect to the distribution problem. Moreover, with deep analysis, the prevention is much more effective than in traditional grid. Plus, smart grid enables storage option at any point of the network. Moreover, the supply enters the grid on every stage of the network. The system becomes decentralized. Customers become more informed and active in the smart grid as they participate in the process. They are encouraged to produce energy in their households using solar panels and sell excess back to the grid. Smart grid helps us to let go the fossil fuels and makes it easier to adopt renewable technologies.
One of the first steps toward smart grid is gathering the data. Intelligent meters help to harvest hourly based data on all utilities. It gives an insights on consumption habits and grid issues. European countries committed to rolling out close to 200 million smart meters for electricity and 45 million for gas by 2020. The investment accounts for €45 billion. Finland in a forerunner of shaping the future energy markets. Finnish network operators have developed state-of-the-art operational processes. Internationally compared, asset management in Finland is on a very high level.
One of the significant changes brought by smart grid is making a consumer an involved decision-maker. Once citizen gets an opportunity to generate own electricity using renewables, household becomes a participant of energy market. At the moment, hourly-based information on utility consumption enables consumers to develop new more sustainable habits. They can adjust their utility usage at low-rate times and see the impact of energy efficient devices. For example, in some countries household receive an information on energy use not only in kWt but its monetary cost. It helps consumers to better understand what electricity is and how to measure it. Next step of smart grid is full participation of every actor in energy market. Click here to read more about the future of home produced electricity as a part of smart grid.
Similarly with consumer market, B2B undergoes an extensive reformation in energy generation and consumption. Large industrial companies invest in own solar or wind fields. Others implement smart meters and deep analysis to determine where there is a heat or electricity leakage and ways to be more sustainable in utility usage.
Energy future is a lot brigher than dystopic movies tend to picture it. There will be an independent energy generation with all participants as active actors. Electricity market will create a pool of intermediaries managing electricity as stocks.There will be a number of software and intelligent programs managing energy and other utilities. Smart grid opens wide opportunities for Internet of Everything and creating new markets for services and analytics.