Scientific American released a new video about what the smart grid is, starting with how our transmission infrastructure works. For those interested in learning about terms like “spinning reserve” and “just in time” manufacturing to the “extreme”, this video is definitely work a look.
Over the past 6 months, I have been working with other students from The University of Texas to develop a short report (primer) on the smart grid in Texas. This project was a part of a competition sponsored by Power Across Texas, a nonprofit organization that works to provide information and education on energy. For this competition, we created a group of policy, engineering and business students (4 in total) to explore what the smart grid is (and isn’t) and what it could mean for the future competitiveness of our state. Our findings revealed how, with intelligent investment and smart policies, the smart grid could provide a competitive advantage for the state.
Our final report “The Smart Grid in Texas: A Primer” can be viewed or downloaded for free here.
This Friday, I will be giving a 7-minute talk (TED style) on the smart grid at the inaugural UT Energy Forum. In preparation for the talk, I have been trying to figure out the best ways to communicate (clearly, succinctly) what the smart grid is and why it matters. I think I have a good plan – but will have to wait and see how folks at the conference respond to my presentation.
If you have a chance to attend the conference, consider stopping by at 2pm for my talk on the smart grid. Later, Bert Haskell – the Technology Director at the Pecan Street Project – will be speaking on the Austin-based experiment on how the smart grid could work in our lives. There will also be a long string of speakers discussing anything and everything related to energy. Definitely the place to be next Thursday and Friday.
An addition to my bookshelf will be arriving in the mail this week – Peter Fox-Penner’s new book “Smart Power: Climate Change, the Smart Grid, and the Future of Electric Utilities.”
I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Fox-Penner while working at CEQ last year when he met with us to discuss topics related to our work on federal energy and climate policy. I also worked with a colleague of his from the Brattle Group, a DC think-tank that is home to many grid experts. I was impressed by Mr. Fox-Penner’s quick and clear articulation of some of the issues we are facing as we work toward a smarter/cleaner/better electricity sector.
Fox-Penner’s latest book (published in April) discusses the challenges facing the industry in the face of increasing demand for green energy and energy efficiency.
For over a century, the electric utility industry has powered the American dream, creating the world’s largest grid and the power to supply our digital economy. Looking forward, however, the industry is beset by the forces of change. Utilities must respond to global climate change with unprecedented urgency by investing a trillion dollars or more in new sources of power and transmission. We must also implement much stronger energy efficiency policies than in the past, reducing the rate of power sales growth to nearly zero.
As if these challenges were not enough, the industry is also implementing the “smart grid” – an array of new technologies that will allow customers to control their own power usage and use local, renewable generators as never before. These opportunities will force a retooling of the century-old business model and “regulatory compact” that supports the current industry.
To read about the book and its author, check out this website.
More to follow once I have time to sit down and chew through all the bits and pieces that Fox-Penner is sure to present in his latest work.
Kate Galbraith wrote a piece for today’s Texas Tribune on the smart grid concepts and how they’re being implemented in Texas. The article can be found here. In this piece, she mentions the Pecan Street Project, which I’ve previously written about and a project in San Marcos (just south of Austin).