Utilities are forecasting that the increasing requirements for electrical grid sustainability, efficiency and resiliency will make the shift to a new “smart-grid” paradigm inevitable. Smart-grid is a catch-all term that encompasses a large number of arising developments in electrical grid design, operation and control and it is often loosely described as the marrying of information technologies, such as wireless smart devices, with the electrical grid to create what has been called “the energy internet.” This points to the fact that, alongside the distribution of electrical power, a smart-grid is also a system of two-way data communication and control where users, generators and operators share information concerning electrical power generation, demand, distribution, storage and similar, in real-time.
Central to the topic of smart-grid is the introduction of intermittent distributed renewable energy generation technologies such as solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind alongside distributed energy storage technologies such as electric vehicles (EVs) into an aging electrical grid that was designed for centralized one-way power transmission and distribution. Also important is increased grid resiliency to faults and outages via the possibility of localized microgrids, capable of operating independently of the main electrical grid, and the introduction of automated fault location isolation and service restoration (FLISR). Grid efficiency and energy conservation measures will also be improved in the smart-grid paradigm with demand-side management concepts and the availability of real-time electrical power consumption data available at the user level.
It is an exciting time for smart-grid research and The Living City Campus is uniquely equipped with the renewable energy generation and storage capacity, residential electrical loads, electrical infrastructure and data monitoring expertise/infrastructure to engage utilities, industry, educational institutions and our regional municipal partners to provide valuable recommendations and research to further the development of smart and micro-grid technologies.
Image Source: Felix Kramer, Wikimedia Commons