I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m generally frustrated with the huge volume of intravenous news updates and general lack of thoughtful, plain-spoken analysis that the web produces. This overview of smartgird technology is the type of article that I wish people sat down and wrote more of. It’s worth a read if you’re interested in solidifying your understanding of smartgrid technology.
There are a couple of things that the article could use. For one, it needs a clear, all-inclusive and short overview. We can thank Wikipedia for providing us a serviceable one:
This evolving intelligent power distribution network includes the possibility to reduce power consumption at the client side during peak hours (Demand Side Management), facilitating grid connection of distributed generation power (with photovoltaic arrays, small wind turbines, micro hydro, or even combined heat power generators in buildings), grid energy storage for distributed generation load balancing, and improved reliability against many different component failure scenarios (in contrast to today’s catastrophic widespread power grid cascading failures).
This definition is admittedly technical but at least it’s holistic. The article never set out the whole picture in one place, and avoided some aspects completely.
The article could also push the reader a little bit more. Smartgrid is an exciting topic; reading about it should be exciting and force the reader to think creatively about the industry. One thing that came to mind is how smart grid plays into digital convergence.
As more and more of our utilities become digital—voice, internet, and television currently—our utility providers tend to consolidate. If the smart grid is touching the home consumer in the form of additional packets of data, will there be consolidation between the Comcasts, ATTs, and Time Warners of the world and the Dukes and Piedmonts? The way that it is presented now, it seems like utilities want to come into the home and set up separate networks of their own, but this obviously doesn’t make sense given that 57% of US households have broadband access. Can utilities leverage what already exists and thereby make faster progress? And, is home electricity a fundamentally different service, or is it just another addition to our current “triple-play”?