If you’re familiar with that old saw about the Tower of Babel, you already know the key to the Smart Grid. It’s all about finding a common language for people and devices to talk to each other as quickly and efficiently as possible, from right across the room to thousands of miles away. Now throw renewable energy, distributed energy, mobile controls and real-time monitoring devices including data-driven thermostats and “smart meters,” advanced energy storage, and millions of electric vehicles into a landscape that was formerly a one-way street dominated by conventional power plants, and you know what the the Smart Grid really is: a beast of epic proportions.
It’s also clear that “what is the Smart Grid?” doesn’t really get to the nut of things. The real question is, “who is the Smart Grid?” In other words, who is our beast-taming energy equivalent of L. L. Zamenhof?
The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel
CleanTechnica got a look behind the curtain last week, when we had a chance to speak with Nick Wagner, Treasurer of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP).
Didn’t know you had one of those, did you? Well, we do.
Inefficiencies in the patchwork of creaky technology that currently dominates the US grid have long been recognized, and as Wagner sees it, “we need to get more out of what we’re putting in.”
That’s where SGIP comes in.
SGIP got its start under the Bush Administration, when the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 tasked the National Institute of Standards and Technology to keep up with the global transition to smart grid technologies. The aim is to smooth the pathway to US grid modernization by working with stakeholders in regional and interstate electricity markets, to adopt standards in the context of constantly — and rapidly — evolving technology.
Specifically, SGIP looks for opportunities to apply standards that help reduce costs and create more efficiencies for both utilities and their customers, all in the name of improving the ability of multiple systems (including emergency responders) to communicate with each other.
The Smart Grid And Utilities
Speaking of utilities, Wagner is among the rapidly growing number of industry insiders who foresee that conventional utilities need to adapt their business models to survive in the Smart Grid world. In that context, SGIP is reaching out to utilities and regulators to help define new challenges as they evolve, and create solutions.
One of those factors, of course, is the rise of distributed energy generation. Advanced energy storage is also going to play a huge role, especially as more mobile energy storage units (aka electric vehicles) add a new layer of vehicle-to-grid connectivity onto the emerging building-to-grid layer.
Add new energy efficient technologies and consumer-friendly systems such as the Green Button initiative to the mix, and it’s clear SGIP is going to be very, very busy.
[Image: Courtesy of SGIP]
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