It is an anachronism that in the 21st century electric utilities disrupt power supply because of rainfall, deliver high voltages that damage electronic devices in their customers’ homes and bill people for energy they did not use. The electricity meters in some people’s homes cannot be used to monitor electricity use, pay bills or detect faults in electrical wiring. This is the state of the grid and electricity use in the city I have called home for six years. The grid in use in the city can be described as dumb.
According to Marsic (2010), a Smart Grid is the integration of information technology in the grid in order to enable real-time, two way digital communications between electric utilities and customers. This will allow electric utilities to control and monitor in real-time the electricity used by their customers (Marsic, 2010). This will also contribute to the development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind (Marsic, 2010). Smart Grid will also make it possible to inject the energy from the renewable source into the grid (Marsic, 2010).
According to Lallanilla (2013), “A smart grid can use real-time monitoring to modify and tune itself to an optimal state of performance, delivering electricity evenly — even during peak-usage hours — and anticipating problem areas and service disturbances.” The real time monitoring will lead to more efficient transmission of electricity, lower costs (for both consumers and utilities and consumers, detection of imminent failure in electricity supply and faster restoration of electricity after blackout (Lallanilla, 2013). According to Lallanilla (2013), self-healing will allow power grid to detect power outages and use other paths for transmission of electricity.
In reference to my introduction, if I were using a Smart Grid, I would be able to know how much electricity I use and when I use it, how much electricity each appliance uses, have a two–way communication with electric utilities. Having this information will help me to make decisions that will save money.
According to Marsic (2010), “The Smart Grid has to have a very robust communications infrastructure underlying it. Standards are highly important because they provide a common set of network protocols that can run end-to-end over a variety of underlying physical and link layer technologies.” The fact that it will use IP and other protocols used on the Internet makes one to think that encryption of communications and other security measures are needed to protect the grid, electric utilities and customers. Given the national security implication of hacking a Smart Grid, this is a concern that cannot be treated with levity.
One of the interesting innovations or features associated with Smart Grid is the use of power line to communicate. While in the US the architecture of the grid makes it difficult to turn the grid into a data networks, this is possible and has been done in some countries.
Marsic, I. (2010). Introduction to Computer Networks: Computer Network: Performance and Quality of Service. Retrieved from: http://www.ece.rutgers.edu/~marsic/books/CN/book-CN_marsic.pdf
Lallanilla, M. (2013). What is a Smart Grid? Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/41920-smart-grid.html