A smart grid is one which includes a variety of operational and energy measures including smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources, and energy efficiency resources. Simply put, it is what you plug into when you flip on your light switch or power on your computer.
A smart grid comes with a digital technology that allows for two-way communication between the utility company and its customers. This technology consists of controls, computers, automation’s, all working together with the electrical grid to respond digitally to the quickly changing electric demand.
Smart grids do not only enhance customer-utility relationships, but as well save the utility company numerous amount of revenue as the company controls its operations from the comfort of their offices. IE, the utility company does not need to physically be present to disconnect a certain customer from its services as they can do this through computers on the smart grid thus eliminating the cost of service vendors who usually are paid for the tasks.
Utility companies stand a high chance of achieving between 70-90% service reliability with smart grids – smart grids presents utility companies an opportunity to move from the analogue era to a new era of reliability, availability, and efficiency that not only contributes to their economic benefit but also to the benefit of environmental health as well. Some of the benefits associated with smart grids include:
- More efficient transmission of electricity
- Quicker restoration of electricity after power disturbance
- Reduced operation and management cost for utility companies, and ultimately lower power cost for consumers.
- Reduced peak demands, which will also help reduce electricity rates.
- Increased integration of large-scale renewable energy systems
- Better integration of customer-owner power generation systems, including renewable energy systems
- Improved security
While the investment may be prohibitive due to liquidity challenges in today’s market, a cost benefit analysis with near accurate data to show customer consumption outlook backed by a rebounding economy could instil investors confidence in such projects, we could start pilots in small clusters and then ramp up accordingly on the back of initial successes.