Discovery Guides Areas


Plugging Into the Future: Smart Grids
(Released November 2009)

  by Marianne Stanczak  


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News & Scholars


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  1. Google Taking a Step Into Power Metering

    Matthew L. Wald and Miguel Helft.

    New York Times, 2009

    Google will announce its entry Tuesday into the small but growing business of "smart grid,"digital technologies that seek to both keep the electrical system on an even keel and reduce electrical energy consumption.

  2. Knowledge is power


    The Economist, Vol. 391, No. 8631, 2009, pp. 40.

    Clever meters could cut energy consumption—and prices

  3. A Little Give and Take on Electricity

    Matthew L. Wald.

    New York Times, 2009

    Mr. Kieken is an early volunteer in an experiment in the “smart grid” — a suite of technologies intended to even out demand for electricity, cut expenses and make the electric system more stable.

  4. Making Electric Grids Smarter

    Brian Fisher Johnson.

    Earth, Vol. 54, No. 5, 2009, pp. 36-43.

    Val and Bud Peterson are passionate about saving electricity-a seemingly hard thing to pull off given their lifestyle. The couple lives in a 650-square-meter (7,000-square-foot) two-story house in the mountains, provided by Bud's job as chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. They regularly entertain. But to save energy Val and Bud don't subject their guests to a low-set thermostat. And they don't freeze themselves once the party's over. In fact, they're as comfortably warm as ever-yet, recently, their electric bill decreased. That's because their house is part of 'SmartGridCity,'the nation's first fully integrated smart grid system, organized by Xcel Energy of Minneapolis, Minn. The company is working with green technology investors to outfit about 45,000 houses in Boulder with smart grid technology. The Petersons volunteered for all the bells and whistles of the program. 'I like to tell people that we have donated our bodies to science,' Val says.

  5. Regional 'Smart Grid' Demo Project Draws Idaho Power Players

    Zach Hagadone.

    The Idaho Business Review, 2009

    Northwest utilities, power industry groups and university representatives joined the Bonneville Power Administration on April 14 in a plan to set up a region-wide "Smart Grid."

  6. Smart Grids To Get Jolt From IT

    K. C. Jones.

    Information Week, No. 1224, 23 Mar. 2009, pp. 18.

    The federal stimulus bill is giving smart grid initiatives a jump start, allocating about $11 billion for utilities to shift their energy supply networks to digital technology, increasing efficiency and reliability and cutting costs. The bill includes $4.5 billion the Department of Energy will use mostly to provide matching grants to utilities for smart grid development and $6.4 billion that probably will be provided to utilities as loans.

  7. Technology's Fingerprints on the Stimulus Package

    Charlie Savage and David D. Kirkpatrick.

    New York Times, 2009

    While much of the sprawling $800 billion legislation consists of tax cuts and broad spending increases for existing programs, like $27 billion on highways and $8.4 billion on public transit, the biggest outlay on initiatives is essentially a technology industry wish list: in the Senate version, about $7 billion for expanding high-speed Internet access, some $20 billion for building a so-called smart grid power network and $20 billion for digitizing health records.

  8. Advanced Power Electronic Interfaces for Distributed Energy Systems, Part 2: Modeling, Development, and Experimental Evaluation of Advanced Control Functions for Single-Phase Utility-Connected Inverter

    S. Chakraborty, E. Kroposki and W. Kramer.

    NRELTP55044313; DE2008944500, 1 Nov 2008, pp. 62.

    Integrating renewable energy and distributed generations into the Smart Grid architecture requires power electronic (PE) for energy conversion. The key to reaching successful Smart Grid implementation is to develop interoperable, intelligent, and advanced PE technology that improves and accelerates the use of distributed energy resource systems. This report describes the simulation, design, and testing of a single-phase DC-to-AC inverter developed to operate in both islanded and utility-connected mode. It provides results on both the simulations and the experiments conducted, demonstrating the ability of the inverter to provide advanced control functions such as power flow and VAR/voltage regulation. This report also analyzes two different techniques used for digital signal processor (DSP) code generation. Initially, the DSP code was written in C programming language using Texas Instrument's Code Composer Studio. In a later stage of the research, the Simulink DSP toolbox was used to self-generate code for the DSP. The successful tests using Simulink self-generated DSP codes show promise for fast prototyping of PE controls.

  9. Albany Hts Cable Project Long Term In-Grid Operation Status Update

    H. Yumura, T. Masuda, M. Watanabe, et al.

    Advances in Cryogenic Engineering; Volume 53B, Vol. 53B (985), No. , 2008, pp. 1051-1058.

    High-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable systems are expected to be a solution for improvement of the power grid and three demonstration projects in the real grid are under way in the United States. One of them is the Albany, NY Cable Project, involving the installation and operation of a 350 meter HTS cable system with a capacity of 34.5kV, 800A, connecting between two substations in National Grid's electric utility system. A 320 meter and a 30 meter cable are installed in underground conduit and connected together in a vault. The cables were fabricated with 70km of DI-BSCCO wire in a 3 core-in-one cryostat structure. The cable installation of a 320 meter and a 30 meter section was completed successfully using the same pulling method as a conventional underground cable. After the cable installation, the joint and two terminations were assembled at the Albany site. After the initial cooling of the system, the commissioning tests such as the critical current, heat loss measurement and DC withstand voltage test were conducted successfully. The in-grid operation began on July 20th, 2006 and operated successfully in unattended condition through May 1st, 2007. In the 2nd phase of the Albany project, the 30 meter section is to be replaced by a YBCO cable. The YBCO cable had been developed and a new 30 meter cable was manufactured by using SuperPower's YBCO coated conductors. This paper describes the latest status of the Albany cable project.

  10. Analysis, control, and economic impact assessment of major blackout events

    Koji Yamashita, Sung-Kwan Joo, Juan Li, Pei Zhang,Chen-Ching Liu,.

    European Transactions on Electrical Power, Vol. 18, No. 8, 2008, pp. 854-871.

    Recent large-scale blackouts in North America, Europe, and other countries raised great concerns over the reliability of our electric energy infrastructure and the economic impacts of blackouts. These blackouts were caused by a cascading sequence of events involving line outages, overloading of other lines, malfunctions of protection systems, power oscillations and voltage problems, and system separation and collapse. In this paper, common characteristics of blackouts are identified by analyzing the cascaded events of the blackouts. It is important to take appropriate control actions to alleviate overload and emergency conditions in a power system in order to avoid catastrophic power outages. This paper discusses available control procedures and emergency control systems needed to help prevent catastrophic outages. Economic losses from these blackouts in the U.S., Europe, and other countries were significant. An evaluation of the economic costs of blackouts can be used to estimate the benefits of emergency control systems that can be installed to prevent blackouts. This paper provides an overview of the assessment methods and procedures for evaluation of the economic costs of blackouts. This paper also describes the generic procedure of an event study to measure the economic impact of blackouts on the values of the firms in financial markets. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  11. Bottling Electricity: Storage as a Strategic Tool for Managing Variability and Capacity Concerns in the Modern Grid


    PB2009106438, Dec 2008, pp. 40

    The ability to store energy in cell phones, personal digital assistants such as Blackberrys, and other handheld devices has become an essential component of business and daily life for consumers in the United States. The rapid advancement of communications and information processing technologies illustrates how small-scale energy storage technologies (e.g., batteries in handheld devices) can become a critical platform for the reliable performance of tools used for everyday life. The same information and communications technologies will be the primary drivers in transforming the U.S. electric power grid into a more reliable, secure, and efficient network capable of dealing with massive changes over the next two decades. It is necessary to evaluate what type and amount of energy storage technology will be needed to facilitate the electric power delivery system transformation that will support this growth and to deploy a Smart Grid.

  12. The Electric Power Grid: Today and Tomorrow

    Massoud Amin and John Stringer.

    MRS Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 4, Apr. 2008, pp. 399-407.

    In the coming decades, electricity's share of total global energy is expected to continue to grow, and more intelligent processes will be introduced into the electric power delivery (transmission and distribution) networks. It is envisioned that the electric power grid will move from an electromechanically controlled system to an electronically controlled network in the next two decades. A key challenge is how to redesign, retrofit, and upgrade the existing electromechanically controlled system into a smart self-healing grid that is driven by a well-designed market approach. Revolutionary developments in both information technology and materials science and engineering promise significant improvements in the security, reliability, efficiency, and cost effectiveness of electric power delivery systems. Focus areas in materials and devices include sensors, smart materials and structures, microfabrication, nanotechnology, advanced materials, and smart devices.

  13. Microturbine based distributed generator in smart grid application

    A. K. Saha, S. Chowdhury, S. P. Chowdhury and P. A. Crossley.

    IET Seminar Digests, Vol. 2008, No. 12380, January 2008, pp. 11.

  14. Power system design: basis for efficient smart grid initiatives

    A. Sensing, A. Bose and W. Wittig.

    IET Seminar Digests, Vol. 2008, No. 12380, January 2008, pp. 58.

  15. Power System Smart Control and Verification

    S. Bhattacharyya, J. Nutaro, L. E. Miller, T. Kuruganti and M. Shankar.

    Proceedings of the Tenth IASTED International Conference on Power and Energy Systems, 2008

    Power system control faces new challenges as the demand on the power grid increases. The demands are met by emergency/standby generation during short term peak loads or blackouts/failure. Smarter automated control responds within a reasonably fast duration to such faulty transients. Automation reduces human intervention but strongly emphasizes the need for a formal modeling paradigm which supports verification of the design. We propose modeling the power system and its control as hybrid system modules. The hybrid model supports verification of the design using formal methods like temporal logics to prove correctness of the design. The verification involves traversing the states of the system as it evolves to verify the correctness of the specification. We illustrate our method on a relay-circuit breaker model and then on automated distributed generation.

  16. Probabilistic online risk assessment of non-cascading and cascading transmission outage contingencies

    Stephen T. Lee.

    European Transactions on Electrical Power, Vol. 18, No. 8, 2008, pp. 835-853.

    Power grids have traditionally been designed to withstand without resulting in cascading events transmission outage contingencies of the N-1 or N-2 kind. However, in actual operation, power grids are potentially vulnerable to cascading outages. Reliable operations therefore require a risk-based approach to monitoring and managing the probability and impact of potential cascading outages. This paper defines and quantifies a measure that relates to the vulnerability of the power grid to cascading outages. The approach is to simulate and identify potential cascading modes (PCM) and to compute the probability and impact of each stage of the cascade and display the risk of each potential cascade stage on the two-dimensional display of likelihood and consequences. In this display, the traditional N-1 or N-2 contingencies will also be plotted for comparison. This approach enables grid operators to be fully aware of not only the contingencies for which they are required to assess and mitigate but also the potential cascading modes. This places both types of potential adverse events on the same basis for comparison. When the risk level of a potential cascading mode approaches or exceeds the risk level of all the N-1 contingencies (or N-2, if it is the reliability standard), then the operators will be well advised to take corrective actions to manage the overall risk of blackouts. Computation examples of applying this method are illustrated in this paper. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  17. Smart Power


    IndustryWeek, Vol. 257, No. 4, Apr. 2008, pp. 20.

    Could the day come when manufacturers adjust their production schedules according to real-time electricity price rates? That's the hope of Gridwise Alliance, a consortium of automation and utility companies exploring technologies that will revolutionize the nation's electricity grid. While still in the development stages, the eventual goal is to utilize information technologies that will result in a 'smart grid'that will provide flexible and adaptive power for all consumers.

  18. Smart Power

    Jonathan Katz.

    IndustryWeek, Vol. 257, No. 4, 2008, pp. 20.

    A smart grid could allow manufacturers more control over their power consumption.

  19. Under surveillance The world power struggle

    Vladimir Brandwajn, Magnus Johansson and Marina Ohrn.

    ABB Review, pp. 55-58. Dec. 2008, pp. no. 4.

    SCADA and EMS are the primary building blocks for a modern power grid control system B. SCADA consists of measuring devices, communications and control systems, while EMS comprises various power system analysis functions. By working hand in hand, SCADA and EMS can create a highly visible transmission system for power system operators, allowing them to collect, store and analyze data from hundreds of thousands of data points in national or regional networks, to perform network modeling, simulate power operation, pinpoint faults, pre-empt blackouts and participate in energy trading markets.

  20. Basic research needs for superconductivity. Report of the basic energy sciences workshop on superconductivity, May 8-11, 2006

    J. Sarrao, W. K. Kwok, E. Bozovic, I. Mazin and G. Lellogg.

    Star, Vol. 45, No. 13, 9 July 2007, pp. .

    As an energy carrier, electricity has no rival with regard to its environmental cleanliness, flexibility in interfacing with multiple production sources and end uses, and efficiency of delivery. In fact, the electric power grid was named the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century by the National Academy of Engineering. This grid, a technological marvel ingeniously knitted together from local networks growing out from cities and rural centers, may be the biggest and most complex artificial system ever built. However, the growing demand for electricity will soon challenge the grid beyond its capability, compromising its reliability through voltage fluctuations that crash digital electronics, brownouts that disable industrial processes and harm electrical equipment, and power failures like the North American blackout in 2003 and subsequent blackouts in London, Scandinavia, and Italy in the same year. The North American blackout affected 50 million people and caused approximately $6 billion in economic damage over the four days of its duration. Superconductivity offers powerful new opportunities for restoring the reliability of the power grid and increasing its capacity and efficiency. Superconductors are capable of carrying current without loss, making the parts of the grid they replace dramatically more efficient. Superconducting wires carry up to five times the current carried by copper wires that have the same cross section, thereby providing ample capacity for future expansion while requiring no increase in the number of overhead access lines or underground conduits. Their use is especially attractive in urban areas, where replacing copper with superconductors in power-saturated underground conduits avoids expensive new underground construction. Superconducting transformers cut the volume, weight, and losses of conventional transformers by a factor of two and do not require the contaminating and flammable transformer oils that violate urban safety codes. Unlike traditional grid technology, superconducting fault current limiters are smart. They increase their resistance abruptly in response to overcurrents from faults in the system, thus limiting the overcurrents and protecting the grid from damage.

  21. Modernising the Power Grid

    J. D. Sawyer.

    American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 86, No. 9, 2007, pp. 23-26.

    A smarter approach to how and where electrical energy is generated and distributed in North America is needed. Various novel technologies are briefly discussed. They include: a partnership between American Honda Motor Co. and Climate Energy LLC to make a micro-combined heat and power (m-CHP) unit powered by a fuel cell for residential use; a smart grid, where every electrical outlet not only delivers power but receives and imparts information about energy use and availability, allowing a better match of supply and demand; the use of high-capacity high-temperature superconducting (HTS) cable placed underground in dense urban environments, advocated by Nexans; the use of oxy-coal combustion as a retrofit to an American Electric Power (AEP) plant, which is being assessed by Babcock & Wilcox Co. (B&W) on a pilot scale, to reduce carbon emissions; and increased use of nuclear power through new investments in capacity to mine uranium and facilities to process it.

  22. Preventing Blackouts

    M. AMIN and P. F. SCHEWE.

    Scientific American, Vol. 296, No. 5, pp. 60-67, 2007, May.

    Since 1990, the frequency of significant electrical power outages has been steadily increasing, rising even more sharply after the mid-1990s. On August 14, 2003, the eastern U.S. experienced the largest blackout in the nation's history, a massive chain-reaction outage that ultimately left 50 million people in eight states and two Canadian provinces without electricity. In the months following this disaster, the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, and Italy also experienced major blackouts. The increase in major outages is attributed to the increasing disparity between the demand for power and transmission capacity. While demand for power has expanded dramatically in recent decades, the U.S. electrical grid has not been upgraded to keep pace with this demand. Most of the equipment responsible for controlling the distribution of electricity is more than 30 years old. Compounding this problem is the effect that deregulation of the power industry in the 1990s has had on the power infrastructure. Before deregulation, a single power company typically controlled the generation and distribution of power for a given region. Today, scores of smaller utilities exist, thus creating a fragmented system in which most investment is going to power generation, while little is spent on the distribution infrastructure. Transmission lines originally designed to support local power loads may now carry large loads of power across great distances. Even if new transmission lines are constructed, increased capacity will do little good if the distribution control technology is not overhauled. Most current power plants and transmission lines are controlled by a system called supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), which consists of a network of sensors and controllers. SCADA systems are several decades old and are generally not fast enough to meet current distribution challenges. To prevent blackouts, a self-healing smart grid must be developed that can monitor the system and respond to problems in real-time; anticipate potential problems and institute appropriate responses; and isolate failures in the network so that the domino effect that occurred in the 2003 blackout cannot happen. The greatest obstacle to developing and implementing a self-healing smart grid is cost. The testing and installation of such a system for the entire U.S. would cost about 3 billion a year for 10 years. In addition, operators must be trained for the new system. Although the cost is high, the current annual cost of power outages in the U.S alone is 0-120 billion. On any given day, an estimated half-million Americans are without electricity for at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, the threat of super blackouts remains unacceptably high.

  23. The Safety of Electricity Networks Today and in the Future

    Zbigniew A. Styczynski, Antje Orths and Rainer Krebs.

    Magdeburger Wissenschaftsjournal, 48. 2007, pp. 24-31.

    Today, electric energy systems are in the scope of public debate. A disturbance in this critical infrastructure can lead to enormous damage within a society. New renewable energy resources, as e.g. wind generators, supply an increasing share of electrical energy at grid nodes, which originally have not been designed for this purpose. The Otto-vonGuericke University Magdeburg executed a lot of scientific work together with its partners as e.g. Vattenfall Europe Transmission, Siemens AG or (Denmark), searching for new, problem oriented and intelligent methods which allows optimal planning and operation of the future's power system (Smart Grid).

  24. Riding the sine wave

    Maury Wright.

    EDN, Vol. , No. 23, 10 Nov. 2005, pp. 39-40, 42, 44, 46, 48.

    Proponents of BPL (broadband-over-power-line) technology insist that the best wires for last mile were strung and connected long ago. But BPL still faces technical hurdles, a potentially nasty standards fight, and angry amateur-radio operators. To many of us that lived the DSL-versus-cable battles, the broadband fight is history. But as alternative schemes such as WiMax are demonstrating, a place still exists for new last-mile broadband technologies. BPL advocates insist that the power grid is the best option yet. The technology offers the potential advan tage of a ubiquitous "broadband outlet" on every wall of a house or a business. Moreover, a smart grid could enable applications such as automatic meter reading, load balancing, and even remote con trol of power-hungry appliances such as air conditioners - in turn subsidizing the Internet service. Proponents even claim that BPL systems can deliver video and voice over IP in addition to Internet services. Relatively small deployments of BPL are under way worldwide. But let's fully examine the real challenges that BPL still must face to go mainstream. Depending on whom you listen to, BPL is either apanacea or a plague. Back in earl tuber, ComTek (Communicaechnologies) held a press conference in conjunction with the city of Manassas, VA, to announce a citywide BPL network. The hype was thick. ComTek Founder and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Fergus opened saying, "It's certainly a pleasure being here today to welcome you all to this great event, this historic event in the history of this nation .. to announce an achievement of a major national technology milestone - the first citywide commercial deployment of BPL. It is no exaggeration to say that Manassas now has the distinction of being plugged into the Internet in a way that is truly unlike any other city in America."

  25. Agents negotiating for load balancing of electricity use

    F. Brazier, F. Cornelissen, R. Gustavsson, et al.

    The 1998 18th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems; Amsterdam, Neth; Neth; 26-29 May 1998; The 1998 18th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems

    Emerging technologies allowing two-way communication between utility companies and their customers, as well as with smart equipment, are changing the rules of the energy market. Deregulation makes it even more demanding for utility companies to create new business processes for mutual benefit. Dynamic load management of the power grid is essential to make better and more cost-effective use of electricity production capabilities, and to increase customer satisfaction. The compositional development method DESIRE has been used to analyze, design, implement and verify a multi-agent system capable of negotiation for load management.

  26. Biden, Commerce Secretary announce next step in stimulus


    Smart Grid Today

  27. Building the Smart Grid


    The Economist

    Energy: By promoting the adoption of renewable-energy technology, a smart grid would be good for the environment—and for innovation

  28. Greenbox Delivers Energy Usage Understanding to Utility Customers

    Erich W. Gunther.

    2009, Nov 1

    Greenbox Technology Inc. is demonstrating an integrated Internet service that lets residential customer view, interpret, and act on their everyday utility consumption — including non-electric utility services, distributed generation, and remote appliance control from a Web browser. Have they succeeded at creating a truly useful energy portal?

  29. IBM: Welcome to Smart Grid Island

    Katie Fehrenbacher.

    2009, Oct 31

    The island nation of Malta will soon be able to call itself the first smart grid island (reality TV show anyone?) IBM is planning to build the first national smart grid network on Malta complete with 250,000 smart meters that will enable the national utilities and their customers to better manage energy and water use. The deal is for 70 million euro ($90 million) and the network is supposed to be completed by 2012.

  30. It's Your Smart Grid


    2009, No. Oct 31

    This website answers frequently asked questions about the smart grid.

  31. Leader or Follower? The Four Essentials of a Safe-and-Sane Smart Grid Plan

    John McDonald., 2009, Nov 1

    Technology and market forces are converging to fundamentally change the way the grid operates, with consequences we will feel for generations. We must make decisions as significant as those wrestled over by Edison and Westinghouse as they debated DC versus AC power distribution. To make those decisions and to quickly capture the benefits of the Smart Grid, utilities need to get organized and act with urgency. They must understand the challenges; and then they can apply four approaches that will help them get past the roadblocks.

  32. More Power To The GRID


    2009, Oct 31

    Working with industry, ORNL is testing advanced conductors and developing superconducting cables to improve the efficiency of the U.S. electric grid.

  33. A Renewable Grid is a Secure Grid

    Roy Morrison.

    Eco Civilization

    The good news is that we can make decisions now to build a renewable grid that is inherently secure and highly resistant not only to cyberattack but to conventional sabotage.

  34. Strategic Vision for Advanced Distribution Automation

    Joe Hughes.

    2009, Oct 31

    This article is excerpted from EPRI's "Assessment of the Case for IEC 61850 in Advanced Distribution Automation" The utility industry is rapidly moving to modernize their distribution systems, including wider use of advanced distribution automation (ADATM).