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Cities around the world pilot smart grid

A number of cities around the world are introducing their own smart grid pilot projects. Smart grid is seen by many as the main answer to the challenge of reducing carbon reduction by concentrating on energy efficiency through the introduction of new technologies to manage demand and introduce distributed generation.

The initial development of electricity grids in the USA began with local grids in towns such as Muncie, Indiania around the turn of the century. The financial models were influenced by Samuel Insull, the CEO of Commonwealth Edison, who brought together concepts of ‘the grid’, economies of scale, reducing price for increasing consumption and the growth of regulation.

It is inconceivable that a new ‘Smart Grid’ will be built from the ground upwards. Local initiatives, with financial and regulatory support from government are generally regarded as being the most likely way in which these projects will grow. Around the world, a number of initiatives have already been announced including:

China: The city of Yangzhou has launched a smart grid demonstration centre as part of the city’s effort to become a worldwide destination for energy efficiency, reliability and sustainability.

The smart grid demonstration project of Gongqingcheng City in Jiangxi Province has passed the first trialon the investigating conference in Nanchang. The whole project has been examined and approved by experts from the Electrical Power Research Institute of China, the State Grid Corporation, Jiangxi Power Design Institute, etc., will be sent to the State Grid Corporation for the next review.

SingaporeThe Singapore Energy Market Authority’s ‘Intelligent Energy System’ pilot project is creating a ‘living laboratory’ for smart grid systems. Key elements of the smart grid include demand response and load management, and customer engagement. Forecasting accuracy for the supply side and informed usage on the consumer side both depend on real time metering and an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) – or ‘smart meters’.

Australia:  A $100m ‘Smart Grid, Smart City’ deal between the Australian Government and the ‘EnergyAustralia’ Consortium that includes IBM and GE Energy, has been announced. The project will include distributed generation, smart metering and demand management solutions at five sites in Sydney and the nearby Hunter Region, and aims to improve the power grid’s performance by giving local energy transmission and distribution companies more control via sensors, meters, digital services and analytic tools.

USA:  The city of Naperville is preparing the local grid for a huge growth in the use of electric vehicles. The Naperville Smart Grid Initiative, [NSGI] will modernize our city’s existing electric grid with upgraded equipment and digital technology, expanding the capacity and improving the efficiency of our power supply.

This smart grid will be better able to meet the energy demands of at-home charging and EV charging stations, making it less likely that Naperville residents will experience power outages or any other inconvenience as a result of the introduction of electric cars to our community.

The city of Austin,Texas has been working on building its smart grid since 2003, when its utility first replaced 1/3 of its manual meters with smart meters that communicate via a wireless mesh network. It currently manages 200,000 devices real-time (smart meters, smart thermostats, and sensors across its service area), and expects to be supporting 500,000 devices real-time in 2009 servicing 1 million consumers and 43,000 businesses.

Boulder Colorado completed the first phase of its smart grid project in August 2008. Both systems use the smart meter as a gateway to the home automation network (HAN) that controls smart sockets and devices.

For further information about Smart Grid Regulation, call  0844 2722322.

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