NIST - Final summary report Technology, Measurement and Standards Challenges for the Smart Grid
The U.S. electricity system is a vital national asset, ensuring domestic safety and security, powering the economy, and making possible many of the technologies that Americans depend on every day. The power “grid” is a vast network of interconnected systems—wires, substations, transformers, switches, and other devices—used to transmit and deliver power to consumers. This complex infrastructure is composed of centralized and independent power plants, transmission lines, and distribution systems that have been constructed over the past century.
Today’s electricity system is composed of disparate technologies that vary widely in age, condition, and capacity. Some of the technologies within this massive infrastructure are reaching the end of their useful life or becoming obsolete, while others are proving inadequate to support expanded use of new energy sources, such as wind and solar. Aging equipment also contributes to system failures—leading to fluctuations in power quality and availability.
The power grid must be modernized to meet the needs of our 21st century society and economy, which increasingly rely on digital and electronic technologies. Creating a smart grid is an essential step; it will provide new capabilities that increase the efficiency, reliability, interoperability, and security of the U.S. electric system.
Smart grid tools and technologies implemented in the electrical grid infrastructure enable bidirectional flows of energy and energy-related communications. This fundamental attribute is vital for integrating widespread renewables, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind, and incorporating the large-scale electric energy storage needed to support these variable energy resources. A smart grid will also better support widespread plug-in electric vehicles and distributed energy and storage and take advantage of demand response, energy efficiency, and load control. Near-real-time awareness of system status possible through a smart grid will enable power companies to greatly improve system reliability and redundancy.
Smart grid technologies will give individual users the ability to have an interactive role in their use of electrical power. Such a system requires sophisticated, wireless, self-powered sensors and communication throughout the grid environment. Inherent in the smart grid is the need for cyber security for both energy producers and energy users. An early example of smart grid infrastructure is the accelerating installation of cyber-based smart meters on homes and businesses now underway throughout the United States.
Smart grid-related technology and services have been growing rapidly and are forecasted to reach nearly $43 billion in the United States by 2014 and more than $171 billion globally. While the conventional electric grid was arguably the largest engineering project of the 20th century, the smart grid will likely be one of the largest (if not the largest) engineering projects of the present century. Recent reports suggest that substantial investments are needed to modernize the electricity system through new technology and other improvements.
Significant progress is being made toward the development and implementation of a smart grid, but there are many challenges that still need to be addressed. A number of roadmaps and reports have outlined the technical issues and potential approaches for overcoming them, from the federal, state, industry, and even global perspectives. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a unique role in the smart grid arena. In the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA 2007), Congress charged NIST with facilitating the development of interoperability standards for the smart grid. The primary tool for achieving this task has been developing a public/private partnership knownas the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel2 Workshop Overview (SGIP) that brings together electrical manufacturers, researchers in academia and national laboratories, utility technology and business experts, and related interested parties.
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