The U.S. Department of Energy has produced an excellent 48 page report on the Smart Grid 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, our first in a four part article series summarizing the DOE Smart Grid Report, begins with an overview of the entire series and proceeds to outline the first two chapters of the DOE Smart Grid Report. The first chapter “Introduction: We Don’t Have Much Time” makes the point that our current grid that has served us well until now is is rapidly running up against its limitations. The second chapter “Edison vs. Graham Bell: The Case for Revitalization” illustrates the need for a profound modernization of our existing grid, looking at our current existing grid and examines its strengths and its shortfalls.

Smart Grid Report Series Overview

Building out the Smart Grid is a colossal task comparable in scope to the construction of the interstate highway network or the construction of the Internet. It is daunting, but it is a task that can no longer be postponed–one that simply must be done.  It is also something we need to do as a nation, for reasons of national security, to lay a foundation for our continuing prosperity,  and to preserve our nations global influence. The report describe the many tasks at hand, gives a historical perspective of the grid and describing this incredibly large networked machine.  It defines what the Smart Grid is, and what it conversely is not, how it can be implemented, while at the same time keeping the grid up and running. The report also provides some concrete examples of Smart Grid projects that are currently underway in the United States that showcase various aspects of what the future grid will provide us. The report also shows how the Smart Grid transforms the current grid into one that functions more cooperatively, responsively and organically – into an intermediating network that shuttles information, as well as power, between a vast number of consumers and producers.

The DOE Smart Grid report is broken down into nine main sections.  It also includes an invaluable and extensive glossary of Smart Grid terminology and an extensive list of authoritative resources that makes reading this report valuable all by itself.

Just as the Smart Grid itself is a massive undertaking; trying to describe it and define it is no easy undertaking. In fact, the DOE report that this article series is summarizing is itself almost fifty pages long. This series of articles is broken into four parts and will be published over a four day period beginning with this first part in the series.

Now on to summarizing the first two sections out of the nine that comprise the report. The other section details will be covered in subsequent installments of this series over the next few days.

Introduction: We Don’t Have Much Time

Our nation’s electric power infrastructure that has served us so well for so long – also known as “the grid” – is rapidly running up against its limitations. Our lights may be on, but systemically, the risks associated with relying on an often overtaxed grid grow in size, scale and complexity every day. From national challenges, like power system security, to those global in nature, such as climate change, our near-term agenda is formidable. Some might even say history-making.

Edison vs. Graham Bell: The Case for Revitalization

This section illustrates the need for a profound modernization of our existing grid this chapter tours our current existing grid and examines its strengths and its shortfalls. Our century-old power grid is the largest interconnected machine on Earth, so massively complex and inextricably linked to human involvement and endeavor that it has alternately (and appropriately) been called an ecosystem. It consists of more than 9,200 electric generating units with more than 1,000,000 megawatts of generating capacity connected to more than 300,000 miles of transmission lines.

The other posts in this series are listed in Related Posts below.

© 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.