A smart grid is simply a new type of power grid which have high-fidelity energy security, self-healing and low-cost power supply with automatic power adjustments, and high-speed communications utilizing digital signals. The term was first coined in 2021 by the National Smart Grid Council as an acronym for 'smart grid'. The idea behind it is to use the latest communication technologies to allow the transfer of real-time data and messages between utilities, customers, even between businesses and between the grid itself. This new system is believed to reduce costs and increase productivity while reducing environmental impact.
Smart Grid Communications Engineering encompasses a broad range of communications systems engineering, from transmission and distribution systems to customer assistance systems and smart grid applications. It can also refer to any system that uses or requires communications technology for its operation. Some of the key contributors to this technology include Information Technology, networking, software and devices, grid management, enterprise information systems and electrical engineering. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of these topics to provide a background in smart grid communications engineering.
The term smart metering refers to the process of adjusting the supply of electricity and gas in large retail electric companies in real time. Smart Metering has become a very popular technology, but there are still many questions about its implementation and effectiveness. Some critics argue that smart metering doesn't accurately reflect the real-time changes in demand for electricity and gas and therefore it doesn't serve an important purpose. However, other experts suggest that smart metering actually increases efficiency and lowers the costs of providing gas and electricity to customers. As proof of this, a handful of distribution companies have implemented smart metering processes, which demonstrate real-time demand adjustments, saving customers up to 25% on their energy bills.
The Smart Metering and Smart Grid committee was charged to investigate the implementation of smart communications and smart metering within the UK electricity grid. Its current report focused on delivering better real-time electricity grid information to consumers. The committee made five recommendations to improving the way electricity grid operators provide real-time information to customers, which includes the introduction of a real-time data feed into the smart communications system of the electricity grid, making the data available to customers at an interactive, web-based dashboard, and allowing customers to request the information as many times as they need
Advantages of Smart Grid Communications
The recommendation concerning the data feed into the smart grid system was welcomed by the engineering and technology industry. This will allow easy analysis and tracking of capacity needs. This would greatly improve the accuracy of the electricity grid's capacity requirements and allow for more accurate pricing. Additionally, the increased efficiency would allow for more savings, which would lead to higher profits for engineering firms. The report concluded with recommendations regarding the third step towards smart grids: encouraging the uptake of smart grid technologies by governments, public utilities, industry and academia.
Smart grid communications systems and smart metering are expecting to completely revolutionize how the electricity grid operates. For example, a system will be developed that allows the transmission and distribution companies to seamlessly communicate about surplus production. When this happens the surplus can be sold to the consumer in the form of demand response. When demand response is combined with load control the result is the elimination of the generation of excess power, which improves efficiency.
It was also proposed that a smart metering system that sends an alert to the network when there is an imbalance in supply and demand would reduce the time necessary for the transmission and distribution companies to establish the amount of energy needed. A transmission company could then establish a rate for surplus production, which will encourage the development of wind turbines. These turbines can be used to offset the need for conventional electricity. The smart metering and load control technologies will also enable transmission companies to provide cheaper energy to households and businesses.
In the future demand response and smart communications between utilities and consumers may allow for improved reliability and less demand for conventional electricity. There are currently a number of incentives that are being developed to attract investment in the area of smart communications and smart grid technology among consumers and businesses. With further research and development the ability to manage the use of demand response and load control on the electric grid may reduce reliance on traditional electricity sources. This will only be a positive thing for the environment as it moves toward renewable sources of energy.