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Current Trends in Developing the “Smart Grid” in the US and the Next Steps for 2010

 
エネルギー情報技術 2011年8月23日

Rapid Access International, Inc.
January 2010.
http://www.rapidaccess.com/

Background:

In recent years there has been much discussion in the media about the development of a “Smart Grid” to provide energy to consumers more efficiently and to help with the reduction of greenhouse gases and global warming. The Smart Grid is being adopted in several countries with the US and Europe (Italy and Germany are major markets) leading the way on several new initiatives. The term “Smart Grid” has various meanings for a large scale system to provide intelligent monitoring for all electricity flows within a given geographic area (for example, a city or even a factory or production facility). Smart Grids typically use things like smart metering to more efficiently track the use of electricity, the use of superconductive transmission lines for the efficient transmission of electricity, and the use of alternative sources of energy for the generating of electricity from wind power, solar power, turbines in the ocean, bio-mass and other “green” sources of electric power generation. A key component of the Smart Grid is to develop metering and monitoring systems for the home and also for businesses or commercial enterprises to shut down electric power to appliances (such as lighting) during peak times in order to preserve electric power and also to reduce the cost of the user to pay large electricity costs during peak usage times. Much of the current development and construction of the Smart Grid in the US focuses on converting homes and businesses to real time reporting of electricity usage through smart metering and reducing the amount of electricity used during peak demand periods in order to reduce cost.

The Opportunity:

The Smart Grid is at the center of the US economic recovery program and is being heavily funded by the federal as well as regional governments at the state and city levels in the United States. It was reported on December 29 that governments and utilities are expected to spend a cumulative $200 billion on smart-grid technologies from 2008 through 2015 according to a research firm in Boulder, Colorado called Pike Research. It was predicted that 84 percent of the $200 billion will go toward investing in automating the nation's grid, while just 14 percent will go to smart-meter technologies and 2 percent for electric vehicles.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2009/12/28/daily13.html

The Obama administration has instructed the US Department of Energy to focus on the development of the smart grid and smart metering and has put stimulus funding into the program in order to create jobs. Our staff (RAI) went online to several jobsites and found many interesting job announcements for analysts, construction staff, and engineers to help build the smart grid throughout the United States.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/dayton/stories/2009/12/28/daily13.html

Interesting Case Studies to be Researched in the US:

  • Austin, Texas. The Smart Grid program in Austin was started in 2003. The project started through the replacement of 30% of the cities electricity meters with smart meters that communicate using wireless technology. The program currently serves approximately 500,000 devices (this means smart meters, smart thermostats, and sensors) in real time through wireless communication to the energy provider (Austin Energy). The Smart Grid in Austin now supports approximately 1 million consumers and about 50,000 businesses. Austin Energy discuss its Smart Grid Program at the upcoming Smart Energy Summit in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 25 through 27. This appears to be a major conference in the US to be held in the early part of the new year.
  • Boulder, Colorado. The Smart Grid program in Boulder, Colorado started in 2008. The program in Boulder is called the “Home Automation Network” or “HAN” and focuses on the consumer electricity market. The HAN controls smart sockets and devices in the home of users. A separate Smart Grid program exists for businesses in Boulder and the two systems work together in a complementary manner.
  • Charlottesville, Virginia. In Virginia, Charlottesville is the first city to be funded for development of a Smart Grid in the state. The $20 million program begins with the installation of about 46,500 "smart meters" in the city of Charlottesville and Albermarle County. More than half of the meters have been installed, with completion scheduled by the end of 2009. (in our interview with Dominion, this data was confirmed to have been completed).

We contacted Dominion to conduct an interview and learn more about their Smart Grid Program. Dominion directed us to press releases on their website with information on the Smart Grid Program. The major trends of the Dominion Smart Grid program include the following items. Some items are still pending regulatory approval.

  • Automatic energy usage reduction of about 4 percent or more annually for typical residential customers through more-efficient management of energy delivery by Dominion. That will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12,000 tons annually, equal to removing 2,100 cars from the road.
  • A demonstration project providing customers Web access, through www.Dom.com, for energy usage and billing information.
  • The option of time-based rates that give customers the opportunities to shift electricity use to off-peak times for additional savings.
  • A demonstration project with Arlington, Va.- based Positive Energy to provide periodic reports that show customers how their energy usage compares with other customers.
  • A demonstration project to test battery storage systems that could promote renewable electricity generation such as solar.
  • Automatic reporting of outages, allowing for quicker restoration of service.
  • Increased customer convenience through remote turn-on and turn-off of service and remote meter readings.
  • A demonstration program for light-emitting diode (LED) street lights.
  • Assistance for Charlottesville to evaluate an electric transportation program.

Source: Dominion website: http://www.dom.com/about/conservation/pdf/ami_brochure.pdf and Dominion press release: http://www.dom.com/about/conservation/smartgrid-charlottesville.jsp

Other Terms Used to Describe the Smart Grid:

  • Intelligent Grid
  • Intelligrid
  • Smart Electric Grid
  • Smart Metering
  • Smart Power Grid
  • Future Grid
  • Integrid
  • Intragrid

Some Major Players in the Smart Grid Development in the US:

  • PG&E
  • Duke Energy
  • Austin Energy
  • Dominion
  • General Electric
  • Google
  • Whirlpool
  • AEP
  • National Grid
  • The Smart Green Grid Initiative (SGGI) -- Major industry Association for building the Smart Grid

The Future and International Cooperation:

The recent environmental summit in Copenhagen highlighted the potential for the Smart Grid in reducing greenhouse gases and reducing global warming. It was clear at the summit that countries such as China with their strong ability to implement policy could become one of the world leaders in developing Smart Grid technologies for installation around the world.

In the US, much of the Obama Administration stimulus package is focused on developing new jobs and technologies to support the development of the Smart Grid. Already, there are major projects in motion and stimulus monies are being matched by large companies such as GE and Google in the private sector to fulfill the objectives of the Smart Grid development.

株式会社三菱総合研究所理事長 小宮山宏

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