The US Department of Energy has announced $220m in funding for projects from a host of national laboratories to help upgrade the country’s power grid over the next three years. What work needs to be done to make the grid ’cleaner, more productive and more secure’, and what are the implications for the integration of more grid-connected renewable energy projects in the future?
Unveiled at the 21st annual UN Conference on Climate Change, the new partnership between Nissan and multinational energy provider Enel aims to bring Smart Grid technology to Europe in the near future.The concept behind the tech centres around using an updated version of the traditional underground power grid, known as a Smart Grid. Nissan proposes creating a symbiotic relationship of sorts between the grid and a new wave of electric cars. Known as Vehicle-to-Grid, the process will see energy used to charge up your car can then be redistributed back into other areas, essentially turning your motor into a rolling energy hub.
The U.S. Department of Energy is matching a $2.25 million Clean Energy Fund grant from the Washington Department of Commerce to research, develop and demonstrate the technologies needed to create “smart” buildings, campuses and cities to better manage energy usage. Once buildings and devices are smarter — managing energy resources optimally on their own — they can also be more responsive to the needs of the power grid.
As more wind and solar energy comes online, the people who run the power grid have a problem: how do they compensate for the variable nature of the sun and wind?California plans to spend billions of dollars for batteries to even out the flow of power from solar and wind, much the way shock absorbers smooth out bumps on the road. But do they need to? Not at all!
Early in his presidency Barack Obama made a pledge to modernize the nation’s power grid, comparing its state at the time to early roads before the Interstate system.”It was a tangled maze of poorly maintained back roads that were rarely the fastest or the most efficient way to get from point A to point B,” the president said.
Tesla has finally taken the wraps off Tesla Energy, its ambitious battery system that can work for homes, businesses, and even utilities. The system breaks down into two separate products: the Powerwall is a home battery system, that comes in a 10 kWh version for $3,500, or a 7 kWh model for $3,000, excluding installation and the inverter. The unit is about three feet by four feet in size and six inches thick, and comes with integrated heat management and can fit either on the inside or outside of the wall of your home. The system is connected to the internet — Elon Musk said that the system can be used to create “smart microgrids” — and can be used as a redundancy system, or potentially allow a home to go off the power grid entirely. “The whole thing is a system that just works,” Musk told reporters during a briefing this evening.
Rural electrification is an oft-heard buzz word in development circles. Yet, according to the 2011 census, only 54 per cent of rural households have been electrified, many of which are in areas too remote to be connected to the power grid. That is why in the last five years, off-grid solar power has emerged as a viable strategy for rural electrification.
Solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and other green power sources are proliferating rapidly, but their reliable integration into the existing electric grid is another story.
A study led by Eilyan Bitar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell Univ., offers a comprehensive reimagining of the power grid that involves the coordinated integration of small-scale distributed energy resources. The study, commissioned by the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC), asserts that the proliferation of renewable energy must happen at the periphery of the power grid, which will enable the local generation of power that can be coordinated with flexible demand.
The face of energy in the United States is changing, and in 2015, electric generating companies will add approximately 20 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the power grid, according to EIA. At the same time, nearly 16 GW of generating capacity is scheduled to be retired in the same year.
Ninety-one percent of the new generating capacity will be in the form of wind (9.8 GW), natural gas (6.3 GW) and solar (2.2 GW). Eighty-one percent — or 12.9 GW — of the soon-to-be-retired capacity will be in the form of coal-fired generation.
It only takes a power outage of a few minutes in the middle of a busy workday to drive home the hazards of relying on an energy infrastructure rooted in the Industrial Age. Without the electricity delivered over the nation’s power grid, commerce would grind to a halt, communication networks would fail, transportation would stop and cities would go dark.
Simply put, nothing would work.