As the technology has been leaping forth to attain advancement, the technology in the energy and power sector is also showing the newer inventions to sustain the energy consumption to cut the cost, consumption and to keep the environment cleaner and greener. Smart grid is one such technological advancement in such a scenario that provides numerous advantages. Smart grids, as a concept, have been around for over a decade and are absolutely essential in the digitalization of the electricity sector.
What is a Smart Grid?
We know about electrical/energy grids but what does smart grid represent when it comes to power sector digitalization? So here we will understand about it.
A smart grid is an electricity system built on digital technology that uses two-way digital communication to supply electricity to consumers. This system enables supply chain monitoring, analysis, control, and communication in order to improve efficiency, cut energy consumption and costs, and increase the energy supply chain’s transparency and sustainability. The smart grid was developed with the intent of using smart network meters to overcome the shortcomings of traditional electrical grids. A smart grid has the ability to self-heal and allows power users to take an active role in it.
An electrical grid, also known as an electricity grid, is a network that transmits electricity from the generator(s) and places where it is generated and transformed (power stations and substations) to the final destinations where electricity is ‘consumed,’ such as residents, businesses, various facilities, and the general public.
In fact, it is a complex combination that includes substations, transmission lines and wiring, distribution lines, transformers, and other elements.
Many governments throughout the world are supporting the implementation of smart grids because of their potential to regulate and mitigate global warming, as well as emergency resilience and emissions reductions situations.
Big data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) technological advances are interesting technological drivers in smart grids, where analytics move to the edge, as in edge computing. Smart grids make use of more technologies, but they aren’t just about IT or even technology. Smart grid technology is an advanced form of analogue technology that has been introduced for monitoring the use of appliances through two-way communication. However, the widespread availability of Internet access in most homes has made the smart grid more practical to implement. Smart grid devices send data in such a way that regular users, operators, and automated devices can respond rapidly to changes in smart grid condition systems.
Grid Modernization Through Smart Grid
Some of the industry experts have stopped talking about smart grids. They interpret the phrase to refer to a stage in which advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) efforts were implemented alongside first-generation smart meters. They’d rather talk about electric grid modernization, for example, because that’s what it’s actually about, with much more features than smart metering, such as sending data in two ways and supplying electricity to the grid in the other path. Despite the fact that many countries, regions, states, and other entities began smart metering efforts over a decade ago, there are still a few that are just getting started. Grid players’ challenges in many nations are primarily visible in the decentralization of energy generation and transportation.
But when we see the usability and main benefit of smart grids, we get to see that enterprises, retail stores, hospitals, universities, and multinational corporations all benefit from smart grid technology. The entire smart grid system is automated in order to track the consumption of electricity at all locations. Grid architecture is also used in conjunction with energy management software to estimate energy consumption and costs for a specific enterprise. In general, electricity prices rise in tandem with demand. Smart grid energy management services help to reduce consumption during high-cost, peak-demand periods by providing consumers with information about current consumption and energy prices.
A modern smart grid system can do the following:
- It encourages consumer involvement in energy infrastructure.
- It leads to an enhanced and high-quality power supply that is resistant to power leaks.
- It has such potential to be more efficient.
- It enables the growth and development of the electricity markets.
The main features of a smart grid are following here: –
- Demand Handling: The total load on the electricity system is not constant and fluctuates over time. In the event of a high load, a smart grid system can help consumers to reduce their energy consumption temporarily.
- Demand Response Support: This feature guides consumers to utilize low-priority electronic equipment when rates are lower, allowing them to save money on their electricity bills.
- Power Generation Decentralization: A distributed or decentralized grid system allows individual users to generate onsite power using any applicable manner of their choice.
The Advancement of a Smart Grid as compared to Traditional Grids
Traditional power grids are demand-driven and have a hierarchical structure, with nearly no storage capabilities. From transmission voltage levels to distribution voltage levels to service voltage levels, the voltage in an electricity network is gradually reduced so that electricity can be used by these various consumers: from transmission voltage levels to distribution voltage levels to service voltage levels (in reality, it’s both gearing up and down, making it a bit more complicated). A distinction is usually drawn between transmission and distribution, where multiple wiring and cabling systems are involved. The goal of an electrical grid is to ensure that power is always available when and when it is needed, without interruption — and there are numerous issues to which a smart grid can already provide solutions.
Due to the complexity and multiple challenges that can arise, such as the effects of severe weather, wildlife damage, human disruption, and other external and internal factors (issues with equipment failure and critical assets), managing a grid is a specialized field for experts who must also consider choices regarding energy regulations and government sustainability initiatives. But these all scenarios are totally different with smart grids. Self-healing characteristics in smart grids enable automatic detection and response to grid problems, as well as speedy recovery afterwards disruptions. A smart grid’s two-way flow of electricity and data allows information and data to be fed to various stakeholders in the electricity market, which can then be analyzed to optimize the grid, foresee potential issues, react faster when challenges arise, and build new capacities – and services – as the power landscape changes.
The electricity market, power use, laws, stakeholder expectations, and even the production of electricity are all changing. As a result, smart grid programs are found all over the world, but with varying techniques and goals.
Smart Grids: More Advanced Than Smart Meters
When people first hear about smart grid efforts, one of the first and arguably most important features that come to mind is metering and so-called smart meters. Smart meters are the next step in a long process that began decades ago and resulted in the first smart grid technologies like automatic metering and, later, Advanced Metering Infrastructure. Distribution lines and substations (substation automation and, increasingly, digital substations), technologies and methods to prevent power outages and assure power quality are all part of a smart grid (availability, reliability, etc.) the connectivity of energy from various sources, with a greater emphasis on “green energy,” smart power generation, sensing along with transmission network, power distribution automation, the inclusion of microgeneration, whereby organizations and larger facilities can generate their own power and supply it to the central network grid (on top of prosumers), better and more power storage capabilities, ways to improve security, alternative transmission methods to save money.
Smart Grid Factors
Smart grid factors are a collection of smart appliances and heavy machinery that play a key part in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical energy. These devices are intelligent enough to comprehend how they work and how to use them.
Smart Appliances: Smart appliances would be able to determine when to consume energy based on the settings provided by the consumer.
This can lower power generation costs by lowering plant peak loads. A temperature sensor, for example, is used in thermal stations to regulate the temperature of the boiler according to predetermined average temperature.
Smart Meters: Smart metros allow electricity suppliers and consumers to interact in two directions. It automates billing data collection, detects system problems, and dispatches a repair team to the fault area considerably more quickly. If there are any problems with the system, such as a power outage, the service provider is instantly notified.
Substations: Substations have been used to monitor and regulate operational data that is both critical and non-critical, such as power status, power factor efficiency, circuit breaker function, security, transformer status, and so on.
Smart substations are required to split the energy flow directions in accordance with the requirements. Transformers, capacitor banks, circuit breakers, network protected relays, current and voltage measurement devices, switches, and other huge and expensive equipment are required to operate smart substations.
Phasor Measurement Units: Phasor measuring is a technique that can assist in keeping the power system stable. A PMU is a device that uses a common time source for synchronization to measure electrical waves on an electricity grid.
Synchro Phasor is another name for PMU. Synchro phasors collect data from numerous grid locations using GPS technology to create a coherent image of the entire network and transmit it for analysis to central locations.
Integrated communication system: The important factor to smart grid technology is an integrated communication infrastructure. It should be swift and precise to meet the system’s real-time requirements. Many various technologies, such as the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System (SCADA), and Energy Management System, are utilized in smart grid communication depending on the necessity (EMS).
Smart Grid Advantages
As we have got to know and understood several features and about smart grids, now it’s time to know about their advantages as well. A smart grid does a lot of smart work. As a result, the advantages of the smart grid are listed below.
Enhanced customer service and more accurate bills-
In smart grid use, tele management systems’ primary benefit is that electricity bills are more accurate. They always show actual monthly use rather than estimations, saving money over the former approach of manual energy meter readings. In addition to having remote access to installation information, faults become easier to diagnose, and solutions may be executed faster, increasing customer service.
Customers must now notify businesses in order for them to take action. However, with remote management, the system immediately transmits any incidents to the utility company, allowing it to interact with users more efficiently.
More Energy savings through reduced consumption-
Smart grids have the top advantage of being able to tell us the consumption at an energy meter at any time, so users are better informed and aware of their actual use. Furthermore, with improved usage monitoring, contracted power can be adjusted to fit each consumer’s real requirements. In this way, users reduce their consumption as a result of the following factors, their contracted power get customized to their actual needs.
Less balancing cost-
This is another smart advantage of smart grid technology. Smart Grids can gather a lot more information than a manual energy meter reading device can. As a result, additional variables are taken into consideration, allowing for the application of data analysis techniques and the development of extremely realistic consumption estimates.
Cost- Effective Technology-
Smart grids are very cost-effective in comparison to normal grids as they provide both the utility and the users benefit from lower operating, maintenance, and administration costs.
Increased security is one of the most expected advantages of smart grids. As the smart grid collects and analyses potentially sensitive data about its users, safeguards must be put in place to secure this information from physical and cyber-attacks. Smart grids are becoming as “hack-proof” as viable by implementing the most modern systems.
Reduced carbon emissions-
This is another main advantage of the smart grid. Smart grids have reduced Carbon Emission Technology which makes them most efficient in terms of environmental safety.
Integration of Renewable Energy Sources-
Smart grid technology allowing utilities to connect renewable energy sources like solar, wind farms, and hydro stations into the national electrical system and send their green energy to towns and households where it is required.
The Bottom Line
Electrical power outages are a relatively regular problem these days and affecting the majority of people. Also, if the feeder or main distribution lines fail, the entire system will be out of operation, reducing the efficiency of the companies.
The smart grid system, on the other hand, has the potential to safeguard the system to deal with these situations since it can immediately redirect in the event of a system malfunction. Smart grids not only connect consumers to utilities, but they also allow users to manage their electricity usage as if they are using a digital payment system, which can be accessed from anywhere at any time.