Smart Grid Overview:
The Smart Grid is a system that is being put in place that will eventually make our electric system in the United States, more efficient, less expensive, and better prepared to deal with power outages. But these are only a few of the benefits of the Smart Grid. The Smart Grid also allows for a new type of technology that will lead to a better and more efficient system of using energy in households, companies, and other infrastructures. The smart grid will be able to turn off some electric appliances when they are not being used to reduce a household’s energy consumption . This will also allow for electrical companies to better estimate and produce the accurate amount of energy that is demanded by the population.
Our Current Electric Grid:
Currently our electric grid is having noticeably more and more problems. In the past 50 years, our technology and society has changed dramatically and the amount of energy consumption needed in America today is higher than ever. With greater energy consumption came better technology to improve our carbon footprint and the go green movement came alive. In the energy.gov article it gave an interesting statistic that said, “If every American household replaced just one incandescent bulb (Edison’s pride and joy) with a compact fluorescent bulb, the country would conserve enough energy to light 3 million homes and save more than $600 million annually.” This shows that even with this new, improved, and ecofriendly technology, Americans have not demonstrated and done their part by keeping the earth green. The electric grid is centrally planned which means that energy is coming locally from electric companies and are being transferred by wires connected to one another throughout your town. Currently, in the United States we are producing 25% of the world’s fossil fuels. We also produce half of our electricity by burning coal. To make the U.S. more environmentally friendly we need to incorporate the new technologies such as solar, biomass, and geothermal energy into our current electric grid. With our out of date technology it is hard to incorporate the full amount of energy these new systems can produce into our current electricity, but with the Smart Grid, these systems will be used significantly more. In a study done by the UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center, the leading professor speaks about how our current grid cannot maintain the amount of energy that we are using and new products such as electric cars will use an equal amount of energy that a house will use in a year. The professor also speaks to the point that the time is now to change our grid as the grid in the United States is a lot more dated than even some of the grids in Europe.
How and Why are We Going to Implement the Smart Grid:
In 2003, 55 million people from 2 countries and 8 states were involved in a widespread blackout. This is only about 15% of the population of the United States but it was the biggest blackout in the United States to ever exist and costed our economy 4-10 billion dollars. This blackout, like most blackouts was caused by an flaw in the supply and demand relationship of electricity. In 3 different parts of the country the demand for energy was significantly greater than the supply so some of the plants shut down. When a plant shut downs the houses draw electricity from a different plant causing that plant to over exert and the domino effect continues until there is a mass blackout. During the blackouts, our research centers, government buildings, and many other infrastructures were shut down leaving the United States extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks on our digital and secure information. This blackout also led to more and more research about how our society and our digital information needs to be better secured, which verified the idea that our country is in need of a higher quality and more technologically advanced grid. To implement this Smart Grid, the U.S. would have to set aside over 10 million dollars a year for the next 20 years to have enough money to move all the infrastructures underground and to create the software to make this thing work. To learn more about the developments and progress being made in this area watch the UCLA Smart Grid video below:
Benefits of the Smart Grid:
The list of the benefits of the Smart Grid continues to increase but one of the major ones is integrating more and more environmentally friendly sources of energy. When using solar panels, wind mills, or geothermal heating systems the smart grid will have multiple sources of battery storage to maintain all the energy made from these systems. Batteries have become more and more sturdy and powerful as seen in the batteries of electric cars and in houses so the amount of energy they can store from the heating systems is incredible. Another benefit of the Smart Grid is the ability to have instant and accurate energy control. In a household the Smart Grid will be able to turn off and on lights, microwaves, and heating systems to control power. It is estimated that with the Smart Grid put into place the United States will reduce our carbon footprint by 12% directly and 6% indirectly.
I think the smart grid will help the united states become more environmentally friendly and use different sources of energy to produce a faster and safer network for the citizens so overall I believe that the smart grid will be extremely beneficial to our society and future generations. Finally, a benefit that will come that is not directly from the Smart Grid is more data for research. The smart grid will be able to tell how many time you open the door or watch TV, etc. which will provide scientists with more data to see if any of these day to day lives have any impacts on a persons health or diseases.