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Mon12222014

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Smart Grid

Recent blackouts stress need for smart grids – SBI Energy

Recent blackouts in India and parts of the United States are "fresh reminders" that grid infrastructure revitalization and improvement are truly global challenges, according to a report from SBI Energy.

The report said service disruptions would put stress on the global economy as they produce economic losses through lost business and added costs to energy, and they find that smart grid technologies a less costly complement to additional power plants, as well as transmission and distribution infrastructure expansion and rejuvenation.

The flexibility in smart grid technologies’ deployment is seen to tackle regional, national and continental grid problems around the world, while also solving grid instability – in the form of voracious leaps in energy demand from developing countries, insufficient transmission and distribution investment in deregulated markets of developed countries.

“Voltage disruptions, blackouts and brownouts are perennial problems because contemporary grid systems remain inherently disjointed,” the report said. “In India, energy demand is outpacing available generation. Transmission line congestion and regional bottlenecks in the United States' patchwork grid have been implicated in grid disruptions; some major blackouts have been sourced to the malfunction or loss of one substation or switchyard.”

However, the report says smart grid does not address grid instability through system redundancies or improvements to the physical integrity of a grid, though they enable the dynamic deployment of system resources through load shaving, additional generation, and voltage regulation.

In addition, it adds system flexibility by way of real-time, two-way communications and the use of microgrids – which are used to “island” a distribution network thus enabling it to manage its own generators and consumption loads independent of an unstable or downed centralized grid.

SBI Energy analyst Bernie Galing said microgrids’ ability to improve energy security and reliability respective to the centralized grid has caught the attention of the market, notably with commercial districts, campuses, healthcare facilities, military bases and neighborhoods.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the cost of service interruptions in the United States is estimated to reach $71 billion by 2020. SBI Energy says that the country’s smart grid market will represent less than 10 percent of that cost that year, and would be an “excellent investment” over more costly grid infrastructure replacements or expansions. – EcoSeed Staff



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