Smart Grid Technology
It seems that much of our future in the energy market relies on the implementation of Smart Grid Technology. According to EU authorities, having an electrical supply which is 40% based on renewable energy by 2020 needs the implementation of this technology, if it is to work to acceptable standards. Also, seemingly, using Smart Grid technology, will reduce the construction of excess, unnecessary, power lines and power plants. This is all well and good but what exactly is a smart grid? What does this “smarter” system do that our current electricity infrastructure can’t?
A Smart Grid is exactly that. It is a system which is “smart” in that it can communicate back to us.
According to the European technology platform, a smart grid is an electricity network that can intelligently integrate the behavior and actions of all users connected to it – generators, consumers and those that do both.
A smart grid not only delivers electricity, but also delivers information. While this all sounds great, there will never be an “official implementation” of Smart grid technology in Ireland or Europe because this implementation is continuously happening. It is, in effect an evolution of our current system. An expansion and improvement of what we already have in place.
Through this evolution towards Smart Grid Technology, grid usage will be optimized. The information infrastructure between generators will also undergo improvement leading to a more efficient supply system. In terms of looking at our infrastructure on a European level, Smart Grid technology will better integrate us with Europe moving towards an integrated EU electricity market. This would allow Ireland to tap into other alternative energy sources available right across Europe.
Another thing that Smart Grid Technology boasts is “self healing”. Self healing refers to the grids ability to monitor and sense faults, in turn allowing it to compensate for problematic behavior. In other words, it is an enhancement of the alarm and fault management behind a grid system.
So, as we can see, Smart Grid Technology is a system rather than a single technology. It is an enhancement or evolution of the grids current capabilities to allow grid usersto control the use of electricity more efficiently. It can be compared to the recent advancements in communication technologies where smart phones and wireless networks have allowed the capabilities in the communication industry to accelerate at a phenomenal rate. These are technologies which, when fully implemented or fully evolved, are only limited by the imagination of the user.