Right under our noses and straight in front of our eyes the way energy is produced – and used to power our homes, businesses, industry, transportation, and public services and infrastructure – is clearly being revolutionized. Well, we all know about power production and delivery is that when we flip a switch, lights turn on, we’re cooled or warmed based on the weather, and our tools work. Until very recently, not much about supplying power had changed since the days when electricity was seen almost as something close to magic. You can basically picture it as how it was when hardworking workers in the bowels of the Titanic frantically shoveled coal into the engines to pump out power at peak capacity. And utilities and suppliers couldn’t handle the ship much more nimbly than the Titanic’s captain. But we’re all increasingly aware of the super disastrous environmental and health impacts of extracting and burning fossil fuels much as we have for the past hundred years. Rubbing salt into the wound is the fact that this model of power production is immensely wasteful and harmful. According to the reports, power plants operate at only about 33% efficiency – much of the other two-thirds is vented off as waste heat causing harmful emissions of gases. Although the older and traditional system is referred to as a grid, it doesn’t operate as one in the sense that critical points interspersed throughout the system are all connected and there’s movement in multiple directions. Electricity goes from plants to substations to distribution networks to end users, with inefficiency rising at every stage. So if the current system can be called a grid, it only makes sense that the one emerging to replace it is the “smart grid” which is much better – with goals to: Minimize and drastically reduce environmental damage from power generation and use Move from monolithic generators burning fossil fuels to many smaller providers tapping into renewable sources like wind and solar and Increase power supply efficiency, flexibility and reliability by equipping the system at every point to gather data on usage, conditions, potential problems and opportunities to anticipate rather than react.
Transform passive consumers into partners with active roles in making the system work and
aiming for continuous improvements Along with the smart grid, the other new and critical
system component is the “internet of things” or IoT. While it might seem an distant vague term, it’s actually quite straightforward – the “things” are a huge and growing range of “smart devices” positioned all along the grid that remotely monitor operations and functioning and transmit vast quantities of data that will be used in previously unimaginable ways to manage and improve the system. You can find helpful information and explanations of the traditional and smart energy grids on the internet.