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5 Smart Grid Solutions to Watch in 2018

  • 3 March 2018
  • Damon Lapping

What is a SMART Grid? The electrical grid in the US was originally built in the 1890’s and the purpose of the grid is to distribute electricity from where’s it’s generated to where it’s required. It consists of transmission lines, transformers and more.

The current energy transmission infrastructure is aging and no longer meets our current energy and climate challenges. The challenge is that the transmission system only allows for transmission of energy. But, with the dawn of the digital technology age and IoT, we now have the possibility of building a new transmission system from the ground-up.

This new grid is referred as the SMART Grid, and it will allow for two-way digital communication with the addition of intelligence being transmittable. The advantages are many, including better control over supply and demand that will limit losses and reduce peak demand.

It will also ensure quicker restoration during power disturbances and offer better integration with renewable energy technologies. The SMART Grid will consist of many modern technologies such as controls, sensors, computers, automation, and new technologies and equipment all working together in real-time. Here, we list the top 10 SMART Grid Solutions to watch out for in 2018.

Demand Response

Managing electricity supply and demand has always been managed on the supply side. When demand increases, supply is increased by upping electricity generation capacity. But what if we changed this approach and manage it from the demand side?

Simple Energy

Matching supply and demand in real time is an ongoing task and something of a moving target. New technology on the demand side will allow utilities to send signals during peak load times to customers who can automatically switch on and off electrical equipment. This practice is known as load shifting, or load reduction. Not only will this save billions of dollars in energy consumption, it will also reduce carbon emissions.

SMART Grid Feeder Automation

A SMART Grid needs to have a communications backbone that will consist of its own data transmission network and sensors to provide real time feedback on the status of the electrical grid, identify any issues and then send this information back to a central hub for analysis.

This effectively details the communications network of the SMART Grid. Several large international engineering companies such as Siemens, ABB and Schneider Electric are working on their own Feeder Automation technologies, and it’s a development to watch out for in 2018.



SMART Grid Data Analytics

As the new technology components of the SMART grid will provide more data to the utility, this data will need to be analyzed for trends and require advanced analytics methodologies to the data. This will include predictive and prescriptive analytics, forecasting and optimization of the SMART Grid. Think of the possibilities?

Data analysts will be able to mine data such as real-time asset metrics and weather factors, then apply smart grid analytics to optimize performance of connected devices in the field. This approach will assist the utility in controlling operating costs, improving grid reliability and delivering personalized services to its end users.

Advanced Distribution Management Systems

The electricity utility business as we know it is rapidly changing. Customers are installing grid-tied rooftop solar PV systems, using the grid to charge their electric vehicles and other grid connected devices that utilities must be able to accommodate.

Utility providers are implementing Distribution Management Systems to cater to new regulatory requirements. At the end of the day, Advanced Distribution Management Systems will help utility providers manage resources and operate their networks efficiently and reliably. As new concerns and challenges emerge, ADMS will evolve and adapt to meet providers' changing needs.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The concept of Geographic Information Systems is not new. In fact, it has been around for quite a while. GIS is basically mapping out everything on the ground, digitally. In the SMART Grid context, GIS adds intelligence by capturing and digitally presenting the location of utility infrastructure.

This can include such things as sub-stations, transformers, transformers, and more. GIS helps utility companies know the location of all its equipment. It helps the provider understand the relationship of the equipment to the surrounding area.




About Damon Lapping

Damon is an experienced energy management consultant, passionate about sustainable energy. He provides Energy Management and Resource Efficiency consulting services to the UNIDO NCPC (National Cleaner Production Center) program being rolled out to developing countries. In the past he was involved in Africa’s largest utility, Eskom’s Demand Side Management program in the corporate sector. He also provides sustainable energy consulting services to clients globally. He currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.