Smart Grid

Smart Grid means different things to many people.  Technologists will tend to focus on the technology as the main feature, electricity networks generally focus on distribution automation and smart metering, while others continue to wonder what Smart Grid is all about and what it is expected to deliver.

Smart MeterSmart Grid is about technology but not as a main feature; technology is simply the enabler.  Smart Grid is very simply about customer responsiveness to the electricity market and the benefit in Smart Grid is that customers will have a choice in terms of what they pay for electricity and how that power is generated.  For the electricity market participants (Generators, Network companies, Retailers and others) it’s a brave new world, one that may threaten their very existence.

The three main elements to this customer responsive model are:

  • Some power will still be generated by traditional power stations but in the main the power for most residential and many communities will be generated by customers themselves, anywhere and everywhere (as opposed to the current centralised power generation model that exists today).
    • The customer could generate their own power or buy/sell power to the community or to/from the grid
    • The customers and/or their community will have energy storage facilities, which may be batteries, their own electric vehicle[1], compressed air, hot water, or other mediums to help smooth out energy demand patterns
  • The customer can adjust their demand for power to take advantage of a lower price for that power or to optimise the generation from a renewable source
  • The customer’s home, office or factory will be in communication with the market so as to facilitate the customer responsiveness previously mentioned and to ensure optimised reliability and security of the grid

Michael drafted Smart Grid Australia’s (SGA’s) “Towards Australia’s Energy Future” vision statement which was finalised by the SGA Board to better reflect their members input.

[1] Using Electric Vehicles as the energy storage mediums to power our homes isn’t a practical option in the short term as vehicles of all types generally come with generous warranties, which will likely be voided if the car’s battery is used for a purpose other than driving the car.