Smart Grid - What is it?

Smart grid is a technology used for the management, distribution and storage of electricity used to meet the electricity needs for the country or area being supplied.

Smart Grid Includes:
Smart grid basics    

Smart grids are growing in their importance and there is an increased focus on the efficiency, reliability, and eco-aspects of electricity generation.

With recent advantages in technology, it is possible to use this to run an electricity grid system that is managed in an intelligent manner to coordinated the different forms electricity generation.

With many forms of renewable energy being used, which often tend to be more variable, a greater degree of control is required on the overall grid to ensure that the needs are met when wind or sun are reduced and when there is more renewable, the other forms of energy generation are reduced.

Traditional electricity grid

The traditional electricity grid used a number of power stations powered by nuclear, coal, gas and often some hydroelectric power dependent upon the country and the availability of suitable hydroelectric power generation locations.

As the load varied over the course of a day, additional generation capability would be brought up to speed and brought on-line as needed.

The way in which this was done was fairly course and needed a reasonable understanding of the normal usage patterns.

It would take some hours to bring new power stations on line so the system was not particularly flexible and in terms of the efficiency levels needed today it was quite inefficient as keeping generators ready to run required energy to be used.

Nationally a main switching and organisation control centre was used to manage the national grid, and this required a lot of manual intervention.

How a smart grid works

As the need to efficiency grew along with the increased level of flexibility and speed of response, the management of the grid became more complicated and required faster response times.

Increasingly the level of computer control increased and the grid became more adaptive, ultimately evolving into a smart grid.

One of the main characteristics of a smart grid is that it can manage the production of electrical power from renewable sources.

The control needs to be far more dynamic than was previously required because the renewable generation can tend to be more variable - solar power especially is very variable and dependent hour to hour on the level of sun exposure.

Also with wind farms having many hundreds of generators, these can be controlled individually to provide the exact amount of energy needed.

However this level fo control needs to be achieved through computer control and individual control of a vast number of different generators.

Smart grid energy storage

As smart grids gain a lot of energy from renewable sources that only provide energy as the wind, sun, etc dictate, the generation may not coincide when energy is required.

Matching the generation and demand is one of the key issues of any power grid system and in particular of a smart grid.

As it is not efficient to not utilise the power generation to its maximum, there needs to be an energy storage capability. In this way it is possible to generate power when the renewables allow, and draw on it when the demand needs it.

Energy storage is not an easy issue because storage capabilities of the size needed are not easy to design and manufacture.

Technologies including pumped hydroelectric storage, battery storage and a number of other technologies are needed to provide a storage capability.

Hydroelectric generation is also a good form of generation for energy management as it can be regulated as required.

Advantages of smart grid

There are many advantages and benefits for running a smart grid system. While there are costs associated with it, the move towards a much greener generation of energy along with cost reduction will force the introduction of smart grid systems for most countries.

  • Reduces CO2 emissions by enabling more renewable usage
  • Reduces fuel costs
  • Allows more effective use of renewable energy sources and better integration into the grid system
  • Provides realtime feedback on usage and energy availability
  • Enables management of a vast number of renewable energy sources

Smart grid systems are the way forward as the world has to meet much lower carbon diode emissions and much lower use of carbon fuels. It is seen as an essential move forward by many as the use of renewable energy sources increases.

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Smart meter technology     Solar electricity generation     Smart grid     Home energy saving technology     LED lights     Energy saving guidelines    

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