This, the fourth and final installment of our four part article series on the report on the Smart Grid put out by the U.S. Department of Energy that delves into this complex subject matter in considerable detail. The report is titled “The Smart Grid: An Introduction” and is dedicated to the education of all interested members of the public to the nature, challenges and opportunities surrounding the Smart Grid and its implementation.

This final installment of our article series covers the DOE reports section that deals with how the various constituencies are working to realign themselves so that they participate in and are positioned to thrive in the emerging Smart Grid future that is beginning to be built out. It summarizes the five fundamental technologies that will drive the Smart Grid. It illustrates concrete examples of current Smart Grid projects ranging from West Virginia to California to Hawaii, that illustrate how a smarter grid is already taking shape. Finally it asks: What’s Your Stake in All This?

Teasing Out the Complexities.

How various constituencies – i.e., utilities and regulators – are working toward fundamental realignment to make a smarter grid get here faster. Electric utilities be they public or privately owned and operated are natural monopolies a fact that was recognized in the 1930s when the current regulatory bodies were first setup. Ever since the industry has been heavily regulated to one degree or another and regulation is paving the way for the adoption of the Smart Grid. With growing consensus around the crucial need for Smart Grid deployment, the cultures of these entities are now changing dramatically and things are beginning to move rapidly. For example 30 states have developed and adopted renewable portfolio standards, which require a pre-determined amount of a state’s energy portfolio (up to 20%) to come exclusively from renewable sources by as early as 2010.

Creating the Platform for the Smart Grid.: The DOE lists five fundamental technologies that will drive the Smart Grid

The various agendas of utilities, regulators and automation vendors are rapidly aligning and movement toward identifying and adopting Smart Grid standards is gaining velocity. These emerging open standards are creating a momentum of their own and speeding the pace of adoption of Smart Grid technologies.

The five fundamental technologies that will drive the Smart Grid are:

• Integrated communications, connecting components to open architecture for real-time information and control, allowing every part of the grid to both ‘talk’ and ‘listen’

• Sensing and measurement technologies, to support faster and more accurate response such as remote monitoring, time-of-use pricing and demand-side management

• Advanced components, to apply the latest research in superconductivity, storage, power electronics and diagnostics

• Advanced control methods, to monitor essential components, enabling rapid diagnosis and precise solutions appropriate to any event

• Improved interfaces and decision support, to amplify human decision-making, transforming grid operators and managers quite literally into visionaries when it come to seeing into their systems

A Look at Current Smart Grid Efforts and How They’re Succeeding.

From West Virginia to California to Hawaii, concrete examples of how a smarter grid is taking shape.

Distribution Management System (DMS) Platform by the University of Hawaii

The integrated energy management platform will be developed, featuring advanced functions for home energy management by consumers and for improved distribution system operations by utilities. This platform will integrate AMI as a home portal for demand response; home automation for energy conservation; optimal dispatch of distributed generation, storage, and loads in the distribution system, and controls to make the distribution system a dispatchable entity to collaborate with other entities in the bulk grid.

Perfect Power by Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)

A “Perfect Power” system is defined as: An electric system that cannot fail to meet the electric needs of the individual end-user. A Perfect Power system has the flexibility to supply the power required by various types of end-users and their needs without fail. The functionalities of such a system will be enabled by the Smart Grid.

West Virginia Super Circuit by Allegheny Energy

The super circuit project is designed to demonstrate an advanced distribution circuit with improved reliability and security through integration of distributed resources and advanced monitoring, control, and protection technologies.

Beach Cities MicroGrid by San Diego Gas & Electric

As its name implies, a microgrid resembles our current grid although on a much smaller scale. It is unique in its ability – during a major grid disturbance – to isolate from the utility seamlessly with little or no disruption to the loads within it and seamlessly reconnect later.

High Penetration of Clean Energy Technologies by The City of Fort Collins

The city and its city-owned Fort Collins Utility support a wide variety of clean energy initiatives, including the establishment of a Zero Energy District within the city (known as FortZED).

One such initiative seeks to modernize and transform the electrical distribution system by developing and demonstrating an integrated system of mixed distributed resources to increase the penetration of renewable energy – such as solar and wind – while delivering improved efficiency and reliability.

What’s Your Stake in All This?

The benefits for everyone. This final section revisits the many areas that have been raised and shows the how the Smart Grid will benefit all of us in so many ways.

This is the final part in our four part article series on the DOE “The Smart Grid: An Introduction

See Related Posts for the previous posts in this series

© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Chris de Morsella (146 Articles)

After a decade performing as a lead guitarist for rock bands, Chris de Morsella decided to return to the career his uncle mentored him in as a youth....Software Engineering. Since that time he has thrown himself into his work. He has designed a compound document publishing architecture for regulatory submissions capable of handling very large multi-document FDA regulatory drug approval submissions, for Liquent, a division of Thompson Publishing. At the Associated Press, Chris worked with senior editors at facilities around the world, to develop a solution for replacing existing editorial systems with an integrated international content management solution. He lead the design effort at Microsoft for a help system for mobile devices designed to provide contextual help for users. Chris also helped to develop the web assisted installer for LifeCam2.0, the software for Microsoft’s web cam and developed late breaking features for the product He also served with the Rhapsody client team to redesign and build a major new release of Real Networks Rhapsody client product. His most recent assignment has been Working with the Outlook Mobile Time Management team for the next release of Outlook Mobile for the SmartPhone. Chris' interests are in green building and architecture, smart grid, the cloud, geo-thermal energy, solar energy, smart growth, organic farming and permaculture. Follow Chris on Twitter.