I’m encouraged by many of the end-of-year stories coming out of the greentech community. Most of them argue that the “smart grid” will be a major story in 2009, and as my own year-end musings show I couldn’t agree more. In fact, my final story of the year is about the smart grid and its inevitable coming into being. Much of my story is through the seasoned eyes of Marzio Pozzuoli, founder and CEO of Woodbridge, Ontario-based RuggedCom Inc., the leading supplier of hardened communications gear to utilities around the world. In other words, RuggedCom sells routers, switches and wireless equipments for electrical substations. As more of this gear is installed we begin to see the grid as an extensive two-way communications network, able to collect and transmit information to where it’s needed. The next step? Creating the software and setting up the systems that can organize, analyze and ultimately act on the information collected in a way that improves the efficiency, reliability and self-healing capability of our electricity system and makes integration of renewables and distributed generation much easier. No wonder the likes of IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, Google and other giants of the IT sector are beginning to take notice and position themselves in what promises to be a massive market.
Anyway, check out the story. Also, here are two other recent stories about the smart grid you might enjoy: Greentech Media and Technology Review. For your further reading pleasure, check out a new report from the Electric Power Research Institute and an excellent smart-grid technology overview released in September by the U.S. Department of Energy.
UPDATE: Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that this happened with the publication of my smart grid story, but RuggedCom’s stock shot up 25 per cent today and hit a 52-week high. There are not many companies ending 2008 who can claim they’re trading at a 52-week high!
Climate talks in Poznan, Poland, this week included a meeting to discuss the concept of a super-grid that would connect renewable-rich regions to energy-hungry regions via high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) cables. It’s an attractive idea. If Iceland has all the geothermal, North Africa has the solar, Scotland has the offshore wind and the coasts can tap wave power, why not build a grid that can carry that emission-free power to inland population centres that rely on fossil fuels and nuclear? Continue reading The grid and renewables: supersize me
Arlington, Virg.-based GridPoint Inc., a leading smart grid platform developer, has acquired a small Seattle company called V2Green, which is leading the charge — excuse the pun — toward grid-vehicle interaction as electric-car development gathers momentum. Basically V2Green has “smart charge” software that will synchronize the charging of electric vehicles that connect to the grid, aided by an on-board vehicle communications device that talks/negotiates with the power utility when an EV is plugged in. Continue reading Vehicle-to-grid innovator gets scooped up by GridPoint
Both in Canada and the United States there’s increasing talk of adding “smarts” to the grid and investing in infrastructure modernization and expansion. Google’s and GE’s plan to collaborate on smart grid development is just the latest example. After two decades or more of underinvestment this is a good thing, because if we truly want to tap the full potential of renewables and maximize conservation and demand-management we’ll need a grid that is flexible and has controllability.
Currently, power on the grid generally flows like water — through the path of least resistance. But power electronics do exist that can direct where we want the power to go. These devices are generally called FACTs, or Flexible AC Transmission devices. They are important, because they allow us to use the capacity in the grid more efficiently and make it easier to manage the intermittency of renewables and a grid where distributed generation is growing. Continue reading Giving the grid power “controllability”