What would the city of the future look like? With the advent of technology, people have been speculating for decades what a future fully integrated with technology would look like. Nowadays, a city of the future is expected to not only integrate technology and the Internet of Things into every aspect of everyday life, but be energy resilient and eco-friendly at the same time This requires not only adopting renewable energy or cleaner technologies such as electric vehicles; creating a smart city requires a comprehensive and flexible approach to energy management. This is why many places are looking into smart grids that allow for two-way communication between energy producers and consumers. When paired with grid storage, smart grids can be an effective way to regulate and monitor energy consumption, creating a grid system that is efficient overall for all parties involved.
How does a smart grid work?
Most electricity grids fall behind energy and resiliency needs. A traditional grid carries energy from a power plant through a series of interconnected power lines to the consumer. Energy is produced and delivered according to real-time demand. During peak hours, energy production is high, and off-peak it lowers. This can cause a strain on the grid, especially if demand outweighs what the power plant can produce. If there is disruption on the power lines, a blackout could occur and power would need to be rerouted manually.
A smart grid aims to address these response and resiliency issues found in traditional grids. A smart grid uses two-way communication technologies, sensors and advanced digital meters to assess grid stability and efficiency. Not only will energy producers be able to monitor energy demand and consumption, consumers themselves can also monitor their energy usage. As energy costs can also fluctuate throughout the day, consumers can schedule energy usage around the cost of energy. This would allow them to make better choices to conserve energy and reduce costs. If homes or buildings are equipped with renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines, they can also sell energy back to the grid, reducing their own costs.
Sensors on the smart grid would be used to detect any disruptions and automatically reroute power if necessary. This speedy response could reduce the occurrence of accidents and casualties in the event of a blackout.
How does having grid storage support the smart grid?
Without grid storage, a smart grid would ultimately still only act and react according to the demands on the grid. In the past, when a power plant cannot meet the needs of a grid, the solution would be to build new power plants to increase energy production. With grid storage, energy can be stored on the grid and released when necessary. During off-peak hours when demand is low, extra energy can be produced and stored on the grid. Stored energy can be released when demand is high so as not to overstrain real-time energy production. It is also a potentially cheaper and more efficient way to secure back up energy should other sources fail. Currently, backup plants and generators that come online when there is a power failure are costly to maintain. This could also help keep energy costs low by producing energy when demand is low and energy cheap.
Besides this, grid storage would facilitate the integration of multiple energy sources, as well as address the issue of inconsistent availability of renewable sources such as wind and sun. Without grid storage, energy must be produced and consumed immediately. If the demand is less than the energy production capacity, then the unused capacity is wasted. A smart grid coupled with grid storage would be able to gather multiple sources and adjust collection and release of energy with the information gathered through the different sensors and monitors.
Grid storage would also help with the decentralization of energy, allowing rural places further away from main sources of energy to store energy. Should power lines between the main grid and the remote area fail, there would still be energy available before power lines come back online.
Cities are moving towards smarter, more efficient consumption and production of energy. The flexibility and resiliency that grid storage can provide these key elements is creating stronger and safer electricity grids and greener, smarter cities.
Learn how Arbin is helping to create these smarter cities of the future.