Currently, many countries around the world, worried about increased use of energy, are looking to implement a number of smart grid projects to decrease total energy consumption through energy efficient measures provided by smart grids. Smart grids provide improvements in the reliability of a grid by decreases duration and frequency of power outages and disturbances, it decreases the total cost of electricity, and it provides new services and products that provide consumers with greater flexibility and choice when it comes to energy consumption. Most importantly, however, smart grid technology will increase environmental quality, as it can promote the use of renewable energy sources and reduce the need for an increase in fossil fuel generation capacity, decreasing carbon emission.
1) Chinese Smart Grid Project. In 2009, China started their own wide-scale smart grid project to transform how the country, rated one of the highest for carbon emissions and fossil fuel usage, generate and effectively and efficiently use energy. The smart grid project will assist in the development of a lower-carbon economy. A majority of the smart grid proposals necessitate the increased integration of sources of renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
2) Austin Energy Smart Grid 1.0 and 2.0. Austin Energy developed Smart Grid 1.0 and 2.0 as effective projects that would create and provide access to smart grid technologies. Smart Grid 1.0 began in 2003 and ran until 2009. The goal of 1.0 was to create a telecommunications network combining fiber and wireless, hardware tools such as network gear, meters, computer sensors, storage and servers, and software applications, databases, and management tools. 2.0 started in 2008 and was created to supply customers with improved services, including web-based smart consumer appliance management, remote turn-on and shut off services, and real-time meter reads either through the phone or via the internet.
3) European Technology Platform’s SmartGrids Technology Initiative. The objective of the SmartGrids Technology Initiative, created by the European Technology Platform, is to create and maintain a shared vision for the future needs of Europe’s electricity networks, to guarantee that the implementation stayed focused upon consumer needs, to work alongside sustainable energy policy, and to continue the support of smart grid, research and development, demonstration, as well as deployment. The project began in 2005 and works to promote the positive development of numerous European electricity networks corresponding with the European Union’s 2020 goals for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
4) Japan Spain Innovation Program. In an effort to support the introduction of electric vehicles in Spain, Mitsubishi and Hitachi, two Japanese machinery mavens, were selected to participate in a smart grid project throughout southern Spain. The project was made into a possibility after deregulations were created in the electric power market in Spain that provided a number of benefits for the implementation of renewable power sources. The Japanese companies involved believe that this smart grid project in Spain will provide a number of new opportunities for Japanese companies in the development of smart communities businesses throughout the globe. The Japan Spain Innovation Program will not only provide smart grid access, but also global business expertise from the Japanese companies, energy management and ICT systems.
5) Transpower Smart Grid Project. Transpower, a New Zealand-based energy investment company, in 2010, has started discussions for a new initiative to create a smart grid for the country. Transpower has already allocated $10 million in initial funding, seeing it as a smart investment. Transpower Chief Executive Patrick Strange said, “We are looking for interruptible load we can reduce temporarily under severe conditions: particularly during very hot summer days…Businesses will be paid to participate, and agree that their non-essential electricity usage can be reduced automatically under certain conditions.” The project aims to meet the needs of the electricity requirement for the country, allowing consumers to have more control over their total energy consumption.
6) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funding to Smart Grid Projects. In the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $47 million was provided by the United States Department of Energy to a number of current smart grid projects to assist with financing. Most of the projects corresponded to the need for technologies that would assist distribution and transmission systems in becoming more efficient. One project in Fort Collins, Colorado, for example, is centered on the research, development, and demonstration of an integrated system of a variety of clean energy technologies and distributed energy sources. This system would enable the city to reduce its total peak electricity demands by 15 percent, minimum.
7) Korea Smart Grid Institute. Created in 2009, the Korea Smart Grid Institute has the goal to explore different projects based on the development of technology encompassing the convergence of information technology and electric power, provide support and cooperation among the industry, research institutes and academia, pursue international cooperation, standardization and security, and achieve a society that is low in carbon emissions that will improve the lives of its citizens through the provision of a nationwide smart grid. The institute has created its only roadmap, test-bed, and pilot city.
8 ) National Technology Platform Smart Grids Austria. The National Technology Platform Smart Grids Austria is a group of stakeholders who are all involved in the electrical power supply sector. The platform seeks to join forces to create intelligent power grids and to muster support for a cost-effective, energy-efficient operation system.
9) Maui Smart Grid Project. The Maui Smart Grid Project is a collaboration between General Electric, Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. The project aims at the development and demonstration of smart grid technology which will control peak circuit demand, decrease total consumer electricity bills, integrate a number of renewable energy resources, as well as maintain normal circuit voltage levels.
10) Smart City, Smart Grid Project. Energy/Australia has created the first commercial-scale smart grid for the country, located in Newcastle, New South Whales as part of the government of Australia’s National Energy Efficiency Initiative. The Smart City, Smart Grid Project is a collaboration between IBM Australia AGL Energy, GE Energy Australia, Sydney Water, Newcastle City Council, and Hunter Water Australia to create a commercial scale project leading to country-wide advances in efficient energy management. Approximately $100 million was committed by the government to gather information about the benefits and costs of smart grids and to provide necessary information to the government, electricity providers, technology suppliers, as well as energy consumers.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. . He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at email@example.com