Read this primer on smart grid basics. Then this. And this. Then read this guy's column on US-China efforts to revolutionize U.S. cities. Here's a more comprehensive piece on the grid and the need to smarten and harden it. And here's a cool video. Plus a "European Super Grid" conceptualization.
Possibly the most intriguing and useful trend: Integrating WiFi technology into home appliances so that manufacturers can dial in and diagnose problems. More importantly, the appliances can be programmed to hibernate and run when the smart grid tells them to, so that customers can optimize Time of Use pricing and the grid itself can level out demand/consumption for greater grid stability. More on that here.
The Big Money seems to be in smart grid optimization on a macro scale. Click here for macro-scale analysis, and here for smaller, city-scale concepts. And here for New York's very interesting conceptualization, which my grid operator friend analyzes as follows:
This fellow talks about how electricity storage must be integrated with any smart grid scheme, but he never does say how to facilitate cost-feasible electricity storage. Brazil is attempting a program aimed at achieving that. There are smart grid risks, too.
A subset of smart grids is microgrids, which are projected to bring solar power to vasts portions of the world where no grid at all exists. Click here. I asked a grid-operator friend what the investment and ecological upside is for micro-grids in the USA. Here's his response:
And here's a website called Smart Grid News.Com.
A 1200 mile, $26 billion Supergrid -- in Japan, that would deliver 60% of Japan's needs via renewable energy.
Easily the most intriguing and smart Smart Grid Plan ("Marshall Plan for China") I've ever read.
"Making the Smart Grid Smarter" -- and here's a cool video about that product, but note my grid operator friend's reaction to it here.
DC vs. AC grid concepts
Microgrids ("A wide range of electricity users are demonstrating strong demand for power generation and distribution systems that can be operated independently from the utility grid. A few of the market drivers include concerns about grid reliability, rising costs of fuel, broader availability of distributed generation technologies, and a drop in prices for some nontraditional energy sources such as solar photovoltaic systems.").
Here is something from my friend Photomofo:
Here is a story about how much it will cost Germany to upgrade their distribution grids to integrate 50 to 70 GW of solar. They are currently at 28 GW or so. It's in German but if you use a brower that translates the page it's readable. The estimate they give is 1 billion Euros to allow for the integration of 10 to 12% PV. This is surprisingly cheap for a country the size of Germany.
The UK, as I understand it, has a very interesting policy when it comes to their Feed-in Tariff. You get the full tariff even if you use the electricity on-site. So guess what? People want to use the electricity on site as much as possible. This policy cannot last long but it may help kick-start the energy management industry there. Here's a new product offering that helps with energy management.
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