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A smart, efficient grid for the 21st century

The smart grid - a modern electrical grid

In order for a worldwide smart grid to be developed, deployed, and effectively implemented, governments throughout the world must invest in smart infrastructure. Most electricity grids in the world today, including in the United States, still rely on dirty fossil fuels and outdated infrastructure.

This is true even though more efficient grid infrastructure and an abundance of clean energy sources are available and cost-competitive (most industrialized nations still have fossil fuels as the energy source for over 50% of the energy generated for national, regional, and state grids). A smart grid, on the other hand, uses state-of-the-art technology for grid infrastructure (ideally in addition to clean, low GHG emitting energy sources) to meet demand and to maximize efficiency.

Essentially, the smart grid is an efficient, modern, 21st-century electrical grid. In a smart grid, utilities manage their electrical supply and productivity in a cost-effective way, and energy customers benefit from a more efficient power system.

21st-century Technology

Utilities in a smart grid use 21st-century energy management systems to match power demand with energy supply. Intermittent renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, can be used both more efficiently, and stored efficiently (with various means of energy storage), in a modern smart grid. When energy grids are augmented with renewable energy and energy storage, there is indeed a smarter grid; helping to save utilities and their customers energy and money. Another benefit of smart grids is helping to fight global warming and climate change by transforming energy grids to become more energy efficient, use more renewable energy, and emit less greenhouses gases.

A smart grid uses smart meters, which can relay power usage data to grid operators. A smart grid also makes use of smart household appliances for customers. Data on energy distribution from utilities, and energy use by customers, in a smart grid is collected and transmitted in the same way data is used via the internet. Smart meters track, and manage, customer’s energy needs, and also report outages, balancing energy supply from utilities with energy demand from consumers.

With cutting edge technology, major building and household appliances also can be managed, and controlled, remotely (in many cases, the appliances must be smart appliances for this to be possible, linked into the smart meter's wi-fi network - see Home Energy Management). Smart grids use the least expensive, and most readily available, energy sources, in a smart grid (which is often renewable energy).

Development of Smart Grids Globally

There has been substantial progress in the deployment and implementation of smart grids worldwide, however there remains quite a way to go in order for the majority of the world's grids to be intelligently designed with modern technology. In addition to the United States, countries in Europe have made significant progress with the development and deployment of smart meters.

Canada and Japan are leaders when it comes to smart meters and smart grids. China spends the most money on its national smart grid of any nation. Other nations with a major investment in smart grid infrastructure include India, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea.

Please also see:

Smart meters - a more efficient use of utilities

Plan for expansion of smart meters to all 50 US states


In addition to smart grids, high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission will help facilitate the rapid expansion of renewable energy globally. Here's a brief snippet on the benefits of HVDC for renewable energy -

HVDC transmission systems are emerging as the bedrock upon which the new energy system based on renewable sources is being developed and implemented. Renewable energy systems, such as solar and wind power projects, are often highly volatile and located in remote areas. The ever-evolving HVDC technology is gaining ground in the new energy economy with long-haul HVDC transmission lines that can transport power with maximum efficiency and power minimal losses.

HVDC lines are becoming the “electricity superhighways”, which are expediting the future of renewable power generation systems in three ways—interconnecting existing power plants, developing new solar power stations, and integrating offshore wind energy projects. Power semiconductors, high-voltage cables, and converters are among the key components of the HVDC technology, which bring distinct features to the modern direct current (DC) transmission system.  FROM -

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