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Smart grid means more than modernization

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, January 17, 2013

When smart grid leaders discuss developments that have been made that will revolutionize the way electricity is transmitted and distributed, they often talk about the modernization that will take place - that is, bringing an electric system more than 100 years old up to speed.

However, many say this will be more than grid modernization, and more along the lines of a complete grid transformation, The Energy Collective reports.

According to the news source, modernization entails updating smart grid technologies, but keep in place current energy sources, business models and policies. A full transformation, on the other hand, would mean changing out old energy generation systems, developing new business models and creating policies that would help shape the smart grid rollout.

While transforming the grid asks much more of utilities and smart grid vendors, in the long run, it would lead to a much more reliable and secure grid, the media outlet stated.

"The current grid has taken modern society as far as it can, but we've seen its shortcomings magnified on a global scale over the past few years," wrote Christine Hertzog, a smart grid technologies consultant. "...In the USA, reliance on centralized, just in time generation has expensive downsides to our economic vitality as witnessed in prolonged outages caused by derechos and hurricanes. A grid that is built to meet performance expectations based solely on reliability and not on resiliency cannot adequately support an electron-based economy."

When it comes to transforming the grid, industry leaders will need to focus on properly integrating renewable energy sources. Development of these energy sources has become a top priority for electric companies. The news provider pointed to the U.S. military as an example, as it is currently working to construct microgrids that would be used in their fixed and mobile bases and could better integrate renewable power.

However, the biggest driver of renewable energy use is that, according to Dennis McGinn, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, is that after an installation price, it's essentially free.

According to APS Physics, while adding small-scale renewable operations to the grid doesn't come with many issues, if the U.S. hopes to integrate more than 30 percent of its renewable sources into the smart grid, it will take new solutions and equipment

SUBNET has already helped some of the largest utilities in North America integrate intermittent power sources, like wind, into the grid, with positive results.

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