THE SMART GRID
A smart grid uses two-way digital technology to manage power distribution. storage and electrical appliances to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability.
How It Works
A "smart grid" is an electricity supply network which includes an intelligent monitoring system that keeps track of all electricity flowing in all parts of the system - including electricity generation, storage and use..
When electricity supply is reduced, for example when clouds block the sun and reduce solar power, a smart grid could postpone running non-essential appliances, such as clothes driers or certain factory processes, to reduce demand. At times of peak demand, a smart grid could draw power from storage facilities. On the other hand, when power supply is plentiful, a smart grid could run non-essential equipment or charge storage facilities.
Electricity generated from any source, including domestic solar panels and wind turbines on farms, can be fed into a smart grid and become part of the general power supply.
Electricity storage facilities in a smart grid can range from hydroelectric dams, to batteries in individual electric cars.
In a smart grid, mechanical electricity meters are replaced with digital meters that measure electricity usage in real time and allow it to be effectively managed. Over time, people’s homes will have sensors in appliances, which will give detailed information to help cut electricity usage and help utilities avoid stressing the grid during peak times.
It is estimated that a a worldwide smart grid could be a hundred, or even a thousand, times bigger than the internet. Building just the communications part of such a network will require the development of an industry estimated to be worth $20 billion a year.
Proposed electric supply grid for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa