Comments on Excerpts from —
“Building a Smart Grid Will Help Recharge Our Nation,” 15 Nov FORTUNE Magazine, by David Leeds, GTM Research
“…Large-scale efforts are underway to modernize the U.S. electric grid by adding high-speed communications and transforming the infrastructure into a ‘networked grid’ or an ‘internet for energy.’
“…Surprisingly, the revolution in information technologies (IT) that has transformed other high-tech industries (such as desktop computing, enterprise networking, wireless telecommunications) has yet to transform the electric power business, arguably one of the farthest-reaching and most extensive “networks” in existence. The smart grid, in large part, sits at the intersection of energy, IT and telecommunications markets…
“…today’s grid remains largely based on the same architecture of its forefathers, Edison, Tesla, and Westinghouse, where the majority of power is generated at large, centralized fossil-fuel-burning power plants…today’s distribution grids, lacking real-time visibility and control, are largely running blind and consequently costing the U.S. economy approximately $100 billion to $150 billion each year in power outages, tomorrow’s grid, much like the human body’s own nervous system, will have sensory intelligence embedded throughout, giving the grid the ability to anticipate disruptions, and even to self-heal…”
The question is, who will benefit from the smart grid which is no longer “flying blind”? The utility’s bottom line or the customer’s cost per kWh? The regulator will have a great deal of ‘say’ in this, it seems to us.
Mr. Leeds goes on to opine:
“…Lastly, and perhaps most welcomed, is the manner in which smart grid will completely transform end-users’ relationship to their energy use, empowering consumers with real-time data and analytics via in-home energy management systems and web portals, taking us closer to the age of The Jetsons. Over the next five years, consumers will interact with the first wave of smart appliances, lightning systems and management systems, using “set-it-and-forget-it” technologies to automate their homes and businesses for energy savings and other preferences, such as increased levels of green energy…
“…In phase two, which will unfold over the next 10-20 years, consumers are expected to deploy the next wave of home energy “apps,” such as community “micro-grids” able to generate 100% of their own power over certain periods, while trading energy for profit during other periods, to electric vehicles able to determine the most affordable hour of the day to charge their own batteries. Meanwhile, an immeasurable number of innovations and applications yet to be invented are waiting for our next great generation to bring them forth.”
People use energy to achieve prosperity; they wish to ‘take it for granted’ in their lifestyles as they improve. Demand response management denotes an expensive scarcity that people will rebel against.
While the western press, the EU, and the United States are all still mesmerized by the AGW issue with its carbon dioxide preoccupations, the rest of the world has waked up to the inevitable: Only nuclear power offers sustainable, inexpensive and reliable energy. Virtually every Middle Eastern country is rapidly contracting for new nuclear power plants – as is Spain, Italy, the Philippines, China, India, Russia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria – the list is exhaustive. Nuclear waste – send it to the French who made a profitable business out of reprocessing it.
The advent of small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) that can be buried in co-location with the local distribution grids they feed with electricity is now upon us. The smart grid needs to focus on reliability and sustainability of the distribution of electricity, not the distribution of its generation with inefficient, expensive, and unsustainable technologies like Wind, Solar, and the like.
SMRs are a natural outgrowth of the human need for plentiful, inexpensive, sustainable energy. Their time has come, and SMRs will consequently transform how energy is made available — in the developing world, and in the developed world as well.