Smart Grid

Solutions

T

he market for energy is created between supply (generators) and demand (paying customers). Influencing customers to reduce demand during peak usage times and to increase demand during times of minimum usage can cut the municipalities’ and utilities’ cost for expensive new generation. A bridge between this smart economic plan for sustainable energy and improved service to energy customers is the smart grid concept.

Local energy brokers want to raise the cost of energy during peak usage, thinking that this will lower demand thereby not pushing the limits of generation. Likewise they will lower energy cost during low usage periods such as overnight, making better use of partially idled generators. Ideally the gross revenue paid to utilities remains the same overall.

Risks imposed by this bridge, if the ideals are not achieved, include overpriced energy and under-served customers. Opportunities include customer energy use reduction, energy cost reduction, improved energy sources such as homeowner PV generation, and large-scale utility improvements in energy delivery efficiency.

A Smart Grid 101 document is available from a DOE contractor that reports current results of Smart Grid analyses. Smart Grid Analysis

Omitted from this report is the concept of Distributed Energy Storage (DES) which utilities want to use to match peak energy generation with demand loads which are known to predictably occur at a later time. Large-scale storage is costly so a concept of using plugged-in electric vehicles has emerged. With accurate data on the energy exchange the energy from the vehicle traction battery from many vehicles can be borrowed to supply power to temporary loads. This is the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) arrangement although it cannot be achieved today. To convert battery energy to AC grid voltage an inverter must be used and no electric vehicle now in production is equipped with this inverter, depicted below:
To accomplish the promised efficiencies attainable with V2G capability, vehicle manufacturers and car buyers must be persuaded to participate with utility and municipality goals. This can be done by offering utility incentives to manufacturers and customers or by legislating Government requirements.