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Could A Virtual Power Plant Be Next?

A Virtual Power Plant – A Smart Grid Application

As the summer churns on, the thinking caps of many are going strong. Below is a video of how a smart grid could certainly assist any city. From utilizing solar panels to tapping into other power storing sources.

The term smart grid has been in use since at least 2005, when it appeared in the article “Toward A Smart Grid” by Amin and Wollenberg. The term had been used previously and may date as far back as 1998. There are many smart grid definitions, some functional, some technological, and some benefits-oriented. A common element to most definitions is the application of digital processing and communications to the power grid, making data flow and information management central to the smart grid. Various capabilities result from the deeply integrated use of digital technology with power grids, and integration of the new grid information flows into utility processes and systems is one of the key issues in the design of smart grids. Electric utilities now find themselves making three classes of transformations: improvement of infrastructure, called the strong grid in China; addition of the digital layer, which is the essence of the smart grid; and business process transformation, necessary to capitalize on the investments in smart technology. Much of the modernization work that has been going on in electric grid modernization, especially substation and distribution automation, is now included in the general concept of the smart grid, but additional capabilities are evolving as well.

Numerous contributions to overall improvement of the efficiency of energy infrastructure is anticipated from the deployment of smart grid technology, in particular including demand-side management, for example turning off air conditioners during short-term spikes in electricity price. The overall effect is less redundancy in transmission and distribution lines, and greater utilization of generators, leading to lower power prices.

The improved flexibility of the smart grid permits greater penetration of highly variable renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind power, even without the addition of energy storage. Current network infrastructure is not built to allow for many distributed feed-in points, and typically even if some feed-in is allowed at the local (distribution) level, the transmission-level infrastructure cannot accommodate it. Rapid fluctuations in distributed generation, such as due to cloudy or gusty weather, present significant challenges to power engineers who need to ensure stable power levels through varying the output of the more controllable generators such as gas turbines and hydroelectric generators. Smart grid technology is a necessary condition for very large amounts of renewable electricity on the grid for this reason.

Keep those ideas coming as we will be needing to utilize many of them in the coming years.

…… as the green future unfolds.

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