Back in January 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy launched an initiative through the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) called the Modern Grid Initiative. As stated on the DOE website, the Modern Grid mission was to “Accelerate Grid Modernization in the United States.” As part of that mission, the DOE team (now termed the Smart Grid Implementation Strategy) formulated a Smart Grid vision that has been widely accepted as a foundation for Smart Grid planning across the United States.
Since then, we have seen the term “Smart Grid” used to more generally describe the modernization objectives originally developed with the DOE and through NETL. While there are a number of industry experts today claiming to have originated the term Smart Grid, what is missing, thus far, from most definitions is the use of the word “intelligent.” This suggests that there is a revolutionary phase to where we stand today with respect to most Smart Grid demonstration and deployment programs. The key question, however, is how will we know when the grid transitions from being merely “smart” to becoming truly “intelligent?”
Perhaps the answer is best obtained by identifying some relevant dimensions of this future state. Reflecting on the progress of a current Smart Grid program, perhaps we will one day find intelligent grids where:
• Sensors and controls become truly autonomous, driven by self-correcting, intelligent algorithms, that are operationally embedded and completely interoperable
• Utilities and energy providers are making the automation investment decision a priority, with intelligent controls a design standard for asset management and operations
• New, third-party stakeholders and market participants offer a larger array of new and innovative products and services
• Regulators and policy makers enable more effective cost recovery schemes, not tied to the current regimes, and with majority support (or demand) from relevant industry stakeholders
• Consumers demand the flexibility and fully engage as active participants, often demanding greater levels of innovation and automation from their energy providers.
Then only remaining question, perhaps, is how long will it take to reach this intelligent state? What is your view?
By: Rob Wilhite