Energy storage, distributed energy, renewables and electric vehicles powered by a smart grid are among the main disruptive trends in the global energy sector. Advances in technology and a global call to preserve the environment, combined with consumer demand for more reliable, better quality, lower cost energy, are the forces driving the acceleration of these trends. Utilities globally are responding to, and proactively preparing for new opportunities and challenges provided by the disruptive trends in energy.
Modernising the Electricity Grid
One fundamental move by utilities is the creation of the smart, resilient, 'self-healing' grid, to deliver more reliable power supply to customers. The traditional grid is generally converted into a smart grid by adding new technologies and equipment that work together to facilitate the two-way flow of electricity and information between the utility and its customers. The two-way flow significantly transforms the energy value chain, with benefits for both the customer and the utility.
Unlike the traditional grid where power flows in one direction from the power plant to consumers, the smart grid facilitates the flow of power in both directions. Through heavy reliance on the synergy of controls, automation and new technological equipment, the smart grid is able to respond digitally to the resulting rapid shift in the demand and supply of electricity.
With the roll-out of the new technology, the utility will ultimately see lower operating costs, greater grid reliability and a reduction in its carbon footprint, while the customer will be the beneficiary of new and exciting services that help them to exercise greater control over their energy usage. These benefits augur well for the future of the energy sector if utilities make the required investments to 'smarten' the grid.
Local energy provider JPS has been taking significant steps over the past few years to transform the power grid into a smart system, investing close to US$150 million in smart technology over the last five years. The aim is to create a system where power generation, distribution and consumption are connected in an intelligent, integrated and flexible manner, to provide the most economical and sustainable energy supply, storage and consumption, while promoting a better synergy between energy supply and demand.
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