Smart Grid Advancements
Utility companies and regulators alike have been talking about building “smart power grids” for years. But how do they actually work?
A smart power grid generally refers to computer-based remote control and automation. These systems are made possible by two-way communication technology and computer processing in a central server. They are beginning to pop up on electricity networks, power plants, and wind farms to consumers across the country. They offer many benefits to utilities and consumers — including significant efficiency improvements and delivery to homes and offices.
The Roadmap to Smart Power Grids
For a century, utility companies have had to send workers out to gather the data they need to provide electricity. These workers would read meters, look for broken equipment, and measure voltage. Most of the devices that utility companies use to deliver electricity have yet to be automated and computerized. Now, many options and products are available to the electricity industry to modernize it.
The “grid” refers to the networks that carry electricity from the plants to consumers. It includes wires, substations, transformers, switches, and much more.
How Do Smart Power Grids Work?
Similar to how a smartphone describes a phone with a computer in it, a smart grid involves “computerizing” the electric grid. It includes two-way digital communication to devices connected to the grid. Operators can give sensors to each device on the network to gather data on the utility’s network operations center. These devices might include power meters, voltage sensors, fault detectors, and more. The smart power grid’s key feature is automation technology that controls millions of devices from a central location.
The number of applications that operators can use is growing rapidly. Smart power grids provide enhanced cybersecurity, wind and solar compatibility, and even electric vehicle integration. The companies behind intelligent grid technology include big tech, established communication firms, and even state and local co-ops.
Maintaining the electric grid isn’t easy. No matter what the future holds in-store, we know that the country depends on the brave utility linemen who manage this power grid every day.
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