What is Smart Grid?
The electric industry for so long trying to make a system which transforms a centralized, producer controlled network into a less centralized and more consumer interactive system. A step towards smart grid ensures to a different and more valuable industry’s entire business module and its contact with all utilities, consumers, energy services providers, technocrats and automation vendors that are all connected to the electrical power. It enables this transformation by taking the philosophies and concepts of new technologies of automation under consideration.
An electrical grid consist of numerous electrical power equipments like switch yards, surge arrestors, surge capacitors, power/auto transformers, bushings, Current/potential transformers, bus bars, battery rooms and most important control room. The combination of all these equipments and their operation makes a network called grid station. Smart grid is a concept of modernization of electrical power deliverance through automation. It is a combination of digital technology and electric power network. The main difference between old fashioned grids that are being used in under developed countries and smart grid is that, simple grids uses one way of communication for only delivering the power to the consumers whereas, a smart grid involves two way communication of electrical data that revolves around both generation, transmission, distribution as well as consumers. The origination of the concept of smart grid has been driven by three technologies, Distribution generation (DG), Energy storage system (ESS) and Demand side management (DSM).
The Smart Grid represents an unprecedented opportunity to move the energy industry into a new era of reliability, availability, and efficiency that will contribute to our economic and environmental health. During the transition period, it will be critical to carry out testing, technology improvements, consumer education, development of standards and regulations, and information sharing between projects to ensure that the benefits we envision from the Smart Grid become a reality. The benefits associated with the Smart Grid include:
More efficient transmission of electricity
Quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbances
Reduced operations and management costs for utilities, and ultimately lower power costs for consumers
Reduced peak demand, which will also help lower electricity rates
Increased integration of large-scale renewable energy systems
Better integration of customer-owner power generation systems, including renewable energy systems
Today, an electricity disruption such as a blackout can have a domino effect—a series of failures that can affect banking, communications, traffic, and security. This is a particular threat in the winter, when homeowners can be left without heat. A smarter grid will add resiliency to our electric power System and make it better prepared to address emergencies such as severe storms, earthquakes, large solar flares, and terrorist attacks. Because of its two-way interactive capacity, the Smart Grid will allow for automatic rerouting when equipment fails or outages occur. This will minimize outages and minimize the effects when they do happen. When a power outage occurs, Smart Grid technologies will detect and isolate the outages, containing them before they become large-scale blackouts. The new technologies will also help ensure that electricity recovery resumes quickly and strategically after emergency — routing electricity to emergency services first, for example. In addition, the Smart Grid will take greater advantage of customer-owned power generators to produce power when it is not available from utilities. By combining these “distributed generation” resources, a community could keep its health center, police department, traffic lights, phone System, and grocery store operating during emergencies. In addition, the Smart Grid is a way to address an aging energy infrastructure that needs to be upgraded or replaced. It’s a way to address energy efficiency, to bring increased awareness to consumers about the connection between electricity use and the environment. And it’s a way to bring increased national security to our energy System—drawing on greater amounts of home-grown electricity that is more resistant to natural disasters and attack.
What are the barriers and needs of the Smart Grid concept?
Key Aspect Challenges/Obstacles Needs
Financial Lack of financial resources. Investment payback period is relatively long comparing against high initial investment. Despite benefits arising from the implementation of the smart grid concept, governments need to have sufficient proofs for justification for high investment and ensure guaranteed return to systematic payback scheme supported by public incentives and subsides.
Economic Market uncertainty. Lack of long-term stable policies and regulations for free market tariffs. Standards and business models of smart grids have to be defined in order to establish global standardized regulatory definitions to generate revenue.
Legal Lack of regulatory framework. Most of electrical systems were conceived under a traditional paradigm long back ago and based on obsolete regulation. Power utility related policies and procedures may be framed to assure compliance with legislative or regulatory requirements for smart grid technologies implementation.
Social Low public awareness and engagement. Reluctance of public for the adoption of smart grid installations. Efforts need to be allocated to educate general public. Raise awareness about benefits and technical aspects on the usage of smart grids is required.
Economic ; Social Lack of innovativeness in the industry. Reluctance of the industry for the introduction of new methods maintaining traditional for safe and guaranteed return for investment. A combination of financial support, stable legal regulation and education in the industry may lead to transform traditional industrial operation into new innovative processes, solutions and finally products.
Technical Lack of infrastructure Additional infrastructure is required including amongst others a well-defined communication infrastructure, sensors, intelligent electronic devices, distributed energy resources, cyber security devices, advanced metering systems and other end-user devices.
Technical Technology immaturity Standards are required to assess features of solutions brought into the market. These standards and further validation of solutions will allow the ancillary facility to cop up with market requirements.
Technical Integration of the grid with large scale renewable generation. Lack of coordination between electric energy and telecom agencies. An integrated complex system is required to guarantee the appropriate interconnection amongst large number of dissimilar distribution networks, power generating sources and energy consumers.
Technical ; Social Potential weaknesses concerning worms, viruses, malware, etc. in the smart grid communication system. Safe communication systems have to defined and implemented to ensure privacy of users across the supply chain.
What are the industry and the EU doing about Smart Grids?
To assess what the industry is working on and taking into account the multi-approach on the smart grids theme, a European project review may offers a clear vision on the status of the market and actors involved.
With some sporadic activity before 2005, smart grid projects multiplied swiftly from 2006 onward, being 2009 the booming year in the series. Together with the number of projects, also the size of them has increased rapidly with budget over EUR 20 million.
In the period 2008-13, investment in smart grid projects was consistently above EUR 200 million per year, reaching EUR 500 million in 2011 and 2012.
Projects could be classified into two main categories: Research ; Development (R;D) and Demonstration ; Deployment (D;D). Total budget distribution based on project typology, and geographical approach is as shown in Figure 1.
In term of countries efforts, the total budget is breaking down as presented in Figure 2. If these total figures are divided by the total amount of electricity consumption in each country the picture varies substantially.
Based on this index, Denmark has the highest level of investment per electricity consumed, accounting for a EUR 6.5/MWh followed by Slovenia (EUR 2.88/MWh), Belgium (EUR 1.57/MWh), UK (EUR 1.49/MWh) and Portugal (EUR 1.35/MWh).
Figure 1. Total budget of European smart grid projects (up to and including 2014).
Figure 2. Percentage from total investment per country