Smart Grid and Sustainable Future: Where do they Meet?
Is it possible for cities not to suffer from energy blackouts and to have systems that don’t waste energy? Is this a utopia? No, we’re talking about the possibilities which the smart grid would provide us with.
This topic is very relevant in the context of the environmental challenges posed by energy generation. City life consumes 67% of the global energy supply even though cities occupy only 3% of the planet’s surface (Rodríguez and Lumbreras, 2020).
But this is not the only problem. Energy systems still depend greatly on fossil fuels. In this framework, smart grids could be a sustainable solution for the future.
Let’s learn how smart grids can help with energy efficiency and with the construction of a greener future.
Smart grid principles
Smart grids are experiencing a big transformation. They have become the main components in different processes. The most important feature of these types of grids is that they are systems that distribute energy and are supported by information and telecommunications systems, which allow long distance reception of information. This makes it easier to address and prevent problems. Therefore, these grids are more secure and efficient.
To do this, it is necessary to develop alternative and renewable energy sources. An advanced measurement infrastructure with smart tools is also needed. This would prevent demand peaks and would warrantee a better distribution.
Last but not least, cybersecurity protocols must be implemented because devices connected to the Internet are involved.
Smart grid map
The smart grid is a reality in the world. Most public utilities use it totally or partially (World Energy Trade, 2020).
Europe has started using smart grids a lot more in the last year. Asia and the Pacific have also paid a lot of attention to the matter lately, more specifically in data analysis.
Spain as an implementation example
In order to accompany the transition to a new energy model, Iberdrola announced that it will install its Global Smartgrid Innovation Hub in Spain(SmartGridSpain, 2020).
This is a platform for the development of smart grid technology that will be implemented in the spring of 2021. So far, 120 workable projects have been identified.
Over 11 million meters have been installed in the country. These smart meters facilitate tele-management, supervision and automation of the electricity network (The Independent, 2020).
H2: Four contributions of the smart grid to a sustainable future
Energy is the motor of industries and cities. That’s why the strengthening of smart grid technology can help the generation, distribution and use of electricity to be greener.
These are four contributions of these grids to sustainability.
1. Smart grids and smart cities
The foundation of smart cities is the convergence of information and communication technologies in real time (The Independent, 2020).
In this context, a smart grid will allow for a neuronal-like tracing of electricity supply in cities. Through information, saving and efficiency will be possible in the electricity generation
Furthermore, with a good infrastructure the quality of the supply can be improved.
2. Sustainable mobility
Electric mobility is a world tendency. However, it presents a challenge for the electricity networks of the future (Xué Research Group and Barión Research Seedbed, 2020). It is necessary to integrate recharging stations into urban infrastructure.
If these stations are coordinated by a smart grid, customized coverage will be more feasible.
It is also recommended to implement V2G systems, which not only allow vehicle charging, but the return of remaining energy.
In Spain, Iberdrola will implement an ambitious plan of recharging stations with over 150,000 stations installed in homes, factories and public roads (urban and interurban) in 5 years. The Public Recharging App identifies more than 3,600 chargers, in 1,200 locations and is permanently updated
3. Citizen empowerment and the smart grid
The smart grid places the customer in the center of the activity. With this model, its decision-making capacity and connectivity are bigger and broader (El Mundo, 2020).
Users are informed about their energy consumption. Data is not isolated, but comparative information, which is useful for decision making, is provided.
The distribution networks give the users the possibility of returning the energy they don’t use.
This will change the concept of consumer to prosumer – people who buy a service but also participate in the production of the service.
4. Storage and digitalization
One of the main functions of the smart grid is the microgeneration of energy and its storage (Xué Research Group and Barión Research Seedbed, 2020).
This increases the quality levels of the supplied energy because it makes distances shorter and reduces loss associated with transportation.
If this works with proper digitalization, the scenario becomes even better.
Digital transformation will allow for:
– Remote adjustment of the potency according to demand.
– More real fees according to different times of use.
– Remote control of the systems.
- Localization of failures and development of models of self-healing.
The world will be needing more and more energy all the time. In fact, by 2030 the demand will be 60% greater (Lagos, n.d.). That is why governments, private organizations and society must analyze the possibilities which smart gridsoffer. Learn about the advances in this field. Don’t be left behind in this revolution.
El Independiente. (October 8, 2020). Smart Electricity Networks for the Energy Transition.
El Mundo. (January 7, 2020). Eight Clues for an Energy Transition.
Lagos, K. (n.d). Green Technology. Universidad Ecotec.
Xué Research Group and Barión Research Seedbed. (2020). General Aspects of the Smart Electricity Networks in Colombia.
Rodríguez, J. and Lumbreras, J. (January 16, 2020). How Much Energy Do Cities Produce and Consume?
SmartGridSpain. (September 23, 2020). Iberdrola Places in Spain its World Center of Innovation on Smart Networks.
World Energy Trade. (December 7, 2020). Smart Networks are Advancing in the World.