In the rush to realize some of the Smart Grid’s promise today, there looms the risk of minimizing or at least delaying some of its long-term potential good.
Through Smart Grid rollout over decades, the world could bring reliable electricity delivery to more regions, create new economic opportunities, reduce carbon footprint andcreate a more cost-efficient facility for power delivery. But all of those potential benefits,to varying degree, are predicated on enabling an end-to-end system of two-way powerflow in which consumers would not only draw from the grid but also store and feed energy back to it.
For example, power could flow from the grid to electric vehicles (EVs) and from EVs to the grid, with utilities effectively harnessing EV batteries as a robust source of distributed generation. With EV-based and static batteries seamlessly integrated via IEEE 1547TM- and IEEE 2030TM-based interoperability, the next-generation Smart Grid would beconverted into a tremendously more efficient, flexible and reliable infrastructure forelectricity delivery that is less dependent on base power generation.
And yet there appears to be a lack of urgency around enabling two-way power flow,because of fear and uncertainty around a host of complex questions that are teed upby the revolutionary shift. Issues such as the terms of business relationships amongpower generators, utilities and users; ownership of equipment; cost recovery; supplymanagement, and billing and measurement will have to be addressed if a seamless systemof two-way power flow is to be implemented.
Additional standards work will be necessary to accommodate intensified deployment of energy storage systems and applications around the world. The IEEE P2030.2TM Working Group, for example, is at work on what is intended to be a globally relevant, systems-level guide to the discrete and hybridized energy storage technologies that stand to be employed in the Smart Grid. The IEEE P2030.2 “Guide for the Interoperability of Energy Storage Systems Integrated with the Electric Power Infrastructure,” will address terminology, functional performance, optimization techniques, evaluation criteria, operations, testing and engineering principles related to a wide range of storage technologies.
The shift to two-way power flow and greater reliance on energy storage technologies would be accelerated by economic and political incentives, as well. More investment instorage research and more government standards prompting heavier usage of renewable energy sources both would build momentum for the transition.
The key today is for the standards community, governments and regulatory bodies globally to commit to and incentivize the most promising, long-term Smart Grid vision,based on two-way power flow. Utilities and manufacturers must be encouraged now tobegin maturing the grid beyond today’s limited system of unidirectional power flow from
utilities to consumers only; otherwise, some of the Smart Grid’s greatest benefits are atrisk of being left on hold.
In addition to his role as chair of the IEEE 2030 Working Group (http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/scc21/2030/2030_index.html), Dick DeBlasio is a member of the IEEE StandardsAssociation Board of Governors and chief engineer with the National Renewable EnergyLaboratory (http://www.nrel.gov/).