The challenges of the Smart Grid
10 Jul 2014 Utilities & Sustainability
Due to energy legislation requirements, energy providers are required to control carbon dioxide emissions, keep energy consumption within low thresholds and expand the use of alternative fuels and clean energy. This puts pressure on infrastructures to maintain an adequate level of efficiency without increasing the demand unnecessarily.
The need to have a connected and efficient energy network is crucial to meeting fluctuating demands across long distances. Relying on traditional Ethernet cabling is cost effective. Combining this cabling with M2M sensors provide power station staff the real time information of a completely connected network.
The objective with the increase in control is two-fold. On the one hand staff can better control energy consumption to monitor differing consumptions throughout the grid and on the other hand it allows to set up protection and failover schemes to increase reliability of the power grid.
Some of the power sources of the grid depend heavily on external factors (mainly weather) so the tighter the control over energy production and consumption becomes the more reliable and failsafe the grid will be as a whole. In adverse weather conditions, sensors can warn and the system can intelligently protect the grid where renewable energy is the main source and pipe reserved power to the energy-hungry spot.
The challenge is not small. Germany for example expects 20% of its energy needs to rely on renewables by 2020, and 50% by 2030. The EU Renewables Directive sets an ambitious goal of 20% for all Europe as soon as 2020.
M2M technology is crucial to controlling this fluctuating power generation. For example, wind turbines need wind to work, but if winds turn into storms the turbines are shut down for security reasons and other power source are required to sustain the same demanded level of generation.
This paradigm shift from huge concentrated power generation plants to smaller highly decentralized systems sending a huge amount of information (ranging from small domestic photovoltaic panel use to traditional power stations generation figures or wind turbine operational level) funnel Big Data to a backend from different sources requiring a real time smart approach to the challenge.
The widespread installation of smart meters help leverage power consumption needs in real time and provides the smart grid the framework of how much energy is required and where it must be provided.
Other Big Data factors used to determine the needs of the Smart Grid include weather forecast that affect clean energy generation and foresees the generation capacity of the grid.