Smart Grid

Smart Grid

Nikhil Swaroop Kaluvala (Temple University, Philidelphia, PA, USA) and Abbe Forman (ECPI University, Virginia Beach, VA, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/jep.2013040103


With no less than half a billion people in the world without electricity supply, and electricity being the back bone for technological development, it makes sense that electricity is the center of discussion. While innovation and technology have radically transformed other industrial sectors, the electric system, has continued to operate the same way for decades. The real challenge today is not to meet the minimum functionality but to be prepared for future demands. These demands make it necessary for the transformation from regular grid to a Smart Grid. In this paper, the Smart Grid was evaluated for its impacts on the environment, industry, and the global population. Additionally, the role of ICTs in solving the hurdles of Smart Grid has been examined.
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“It looks like we’re going to get some relief from this heat spell,” said Jim Trebinski, CEO of Upland Power & Light, to Fred Urwin, his V.P. of engineering (, 2010, para1). Jim had just checked the five-day weather report on his Blackberry. The heat index had been over 100 degrees almost every day for three weeks. “You know the culprit,” Fred said. “It’s air conditioning. My reports show power usage up 15.3% so far this month compared to August last year. We’ve asked our commercial customers to shut down elevators and turn on only 50% of their lights during the afternoon and early evening. But that’s not winning us any friends out there” (, para3). There have to be better ways of managing peak demand so we won’t face this exact same situation next year. How can we optimize equipment and manage next summer’s peak power demands? The answer is ‘Smart Grid’.

Electricity supply is one of the major concerns today and it is strongly linked to the climatic changes. Almost a quarter of the world is without electricity. The prime reason why technology is underdeveloped in many developing countries is lack of proper power supply (The Economist, 2007). On the other hand in developed countries there is a marginal increase in electricity prices because of charge per unit at peak hours. The electric grid we use today was designed more than 50 years ago, to prevent blackout and to ensure reliability and efficiency the grid needs to be updated. In short we need a complete makeover. All these factors bring us to the point where we need a change or more precisely, an upgrade to the present electric grid. The solution is Smart Grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) notes that the Smart Grid will be an automated, widely distributed energy delivery network, characterized by a two-way flow of electricity and information and able to monitor everything from power plants to customer preferences to individual appliances (Dickinson, 2011). Dickinson added that distributed computing and communications technology will be incorporated to deliver real-time information and enable the near instantaneous balance of supply and demand down to the device level. In short, the Smart Grid will deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability and transparency.

The potential benefits of the Smart Grid have been cited widely. They are highlighted in President Barack Obama's energy plan, which calls for huge investment in Smart Grid technologies. One of the significant benefits is improvement to the environment, particularly in the form of lower greenhouse gas emissions (Hledik, 2009). Therefore, the first research question (RQ1) is: How green is the Smart Grid?

While current electricity networks and grids have fulfilled their function effectively, what is needed is to not just meet the minimum functionality; rather to face challenges and improve the technology. It will take time, public and private resources, and coordinated economic policies to achieve the projected benefits of Smart Grid development. The emergence of this transformational technology calls for a dramatic restructuring of America’s energy economy. New environmental policies provide an opportunity to grow the U.S. economy, foster business opportunities, and generate jobs while advancing societal imperatives. Illinois has seized this opportunity (Hamilton & Summy, 2010). In Illinois a public-private partnership was formed to support corporations, universities, and laboratories to leverage the opportunities of this infrastructure transformation.

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