In contrast to the electrical grid of the past, a product of contemporary manufacturing behind powering all the lights throughout the country; the grid of the future – smart grids – is specifically designed to accommodate the increased energy resources that have accumulated over the years. Smart grids can also assist in building up immunity and durability of electrical systems, such that they do not break down that easily and are more resilient.
Smart Grids – What Are They
Smart grids are essentially the bridge that connects electricity and information in a two-direction flow that is vastly different from how it was controlled in the past. Traditionally, the way it was operated was increasing the production based on the need and demand of the people accordingly, with not much insight into how the electricity was being shared or consumed. Now, it is a herculean task to sustain the way it was operated traditionally as more than 2 million households have installed solar energy and overall electricity usage has developed to include a huge part of the world.
Furthermore, since we have all upgraded from consumers to prosumers, we are not only just consuming electricity, but are producing as well with the installation of solar energy in our homes. Thus, it is necessary to keep track of where our electricity is being used and how to effectively use and distribute it.
How Do Smart grids Work?
Smart meters are the technology behind smart grids and can also be said to be the driving force behind it. Smart meters are recognized as Advanced Metering Infrastructure, which is the technology that enables the two-directional flow of communication and information between the utility and us. From Dec 2011 to Dec 2017, the AMI is observed to have been steadily surging, with almost 50 percent of all electricity meters having been switched to smart meters.
Smart meters are in charge of giving data readings in 5-minute intervals. To make things more convenient, technology has developed to the point where you can now access the readings easily on an app or website, which makes it more efficient and handy to track your usage on your own without contacting your utility. This is a far cry from how it was tracked in the past, where the readings were measured and noted by hand, or by employees who drove from house to house with their radios. The downside of the previous readings would be that data was more comminuted and there would be a ton of data to note and sift through.
With all the improvement in technology, there are further electricity usage insights recorded; such as how much and when we use electricity. By taking all these pieces of information into account, rates can be designed to reflect the cost of electricity production more precisely depending on the hour of the day, and on the respective seasons. Utilities can also make use of demand and response tactics, by supplying incentives and benefit programs that will motivate their customers to consume less electricity accordingly; such as consuming less during expensive supply timings, and consuming more when it is less costly to produce.
There is so much more a smart grid is capable of besides just solely providing electricity usage insights. For example, when combined with other smart appliances, such as dishwashers, it will provide better perceptions of the electricity usage of that particular device.
Taking it one step further, it can allow for greater adjustability for the operators behind the grid and help save on the costs of operating the smart device. One good example to illustrate this point is that if every house in a particular neighborhood uses its dishwasher after dinner daily, the expectations for both electricity and expenses would surge. Instead of doing that, the grid operator can give a sign to the particular appliance which will imply the optimum timing for it to be run. They can also initiate and convey the appliances to only run at a certain timing. This will help to stabilize the requirement of the appliances, and at the same time, lower the prices for everyone using the system. Therefore, when used and applied correctly, a lot of electricity can be used more efficiently.
Advantages Of Using Smart Grids
There are a plethora of benefits to using smart grids.
1. You can better integrate your renewables
Smart grids are programmed to respond and adapt to any differences that are outputted from renewable resources by either adjusting the demand or by bringing forth storage solutions. This will allow a better incorporation of renewables among every system involved.
2. Better performance of distributed energy resources
Smart grids can independently manage the supply and demand required at an equally shared level while ensuring that the production from any distributed resources is used as efficiently and constructively as possible.
3. Lower electricity loss
The capability of incorporating any distributed resources to smart grids indicate that they have the added incentive of reducing a huge amount of electricity loss by ensuring that supply and demand are kept contained.
4. Improved resiliency and reliability
By providing in-depth and a tremendous amount of data, it will better facilitate diagnosing and resolving any possible issues that may crop up on the grid. This will also lead to a quicker resolution when it comes to an outage.
5. Load balancing for lower-cost service
By stabilizing the balance for electrical supply and demand and by enabling demand to increase when supply is at its cheapest, smart grids are essentially providing a cost-efficient electricity solution for everyone on the grid.
It may be the right time to hop onto the bandwagon in supporting the era of the smart grid. However, you have to first consider implementing smart home appliances, which will enable your home to use and consume electricity more productively and efficiently. You should then think about introducing solar into your household to make the change from being a consumer to a prosumer. This will not only help you shift to becoming a user of the future smart grid, but it will also help to reduce your expenses. With the majority of the world moving onto more efficient ways of using electricity while at the same time, conserving the costs of producing it, it is only a matter of time before everyone accepts smart grids as part of their future.