The Government's Big Push to an Electric Smart Grid
On SyFy channel, Eureka’s Sheriff Jack Carter lives in a smart house called Sarah. She is an artificial intelligence (AI) home. Sarah stands for Self Actuated Residential Automated Habitat, and she controls all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) in the house. She even orders the groceries, and analyzes the filtered air.
Sarah surpasses current smart home capabilities and she operates as a singularity, but technology gets a little closer to her each year. While the government does not intend for homes to turn into Sarah, they do plan on making home appliances and utilities into one big smart grid . The homeowner can control various MEP functions with their smart phone or laptop. Unfortunately, government and the utility companies can also talk to the home.
In 2008, the Department of Energy published the Smart Grid Introduction. Over the past year they have published six more documents detailing the benefits, responsibilities, and interests of the other stakeholders. They include – consumer advocates, utilities, technology providers, regulators, policy makers, and , and environmental groups.
Unlike today, when the United States relies on a centralized electrical grid, the smart grid would consist of a fully integrated distributed energy system utilizing wireless communication. The United States has not been alone in setting this goal. Many European nations have been moving to a decentralized system, and Denmark is close to completion.
The government cites several reasons for moving to a smart grid. It would allow energy to be used more efficiently, reduce costs, reduce the greenhouse effect, and improve the stability of the electrical grid. The grid would be more efficient in that unused electricity in one location would go to an area that needs more.
It’s doubtful the system will reduce costs. The new grid requires more hardware and software. It will need more security systems, and more skilled workers to operate the technology.
Modern countries demand more energy than ever before. Even though equipment is more efficient and uses less energy then ever before, the amount of equipment increases. The carbon footprint is not likely to decrease, only grow at a slower rate.
However, a distributed system would be advantageous. The chance of the grid failing due to a localized incident decreases. Regardless of whether a natural disaster, human error, or terrorist attack occurs, a decentralized system will be more resilient. In order to achieve the smart grid, companies have been doing the research and planning.Continued on the next page