It is no secret that demand for electricity far outstrips available supply. Demand from both the rapid urbanization of developing economies as well as emergence of new applications in developed nations is driving this trend. Generating additional capacity is one, albeit quite expensive, option to deal with this imbalance. Alternatively, turning to technology to help address this issue is another.
In the past I have written about smart energy and its evolution as a potential means to tackle this challenge. In recent times, numerous applications have inundated the market, promising smarter ways to manage power consumption of household devices. The emergence and growth of Nest Labs (and its recent acquisition by Google) is a timely example of this trend. An adaptive thermostat that learns from the user’s habits, is easy to operate, and is cool looking, is a great start.
As effective as such point solutions are, the biggest impact is only possible from a more holistic approach, such as creating a smart (power) grid. A power grid encompasses the entire electricity infrastructure including power generation, transmission and consumption. By technologically upgrading the traditional grid to account for user information including consumption patterns and behaviors, and making decisions based on this feedback, one can facilitate a significantly more efficient grid.
My colleagues Andrew Caples and Rich Rejmaniak have recently written a comprehensive article about what it takes to deliver a smarter smart grid – the standards driving this initiative, the communication protocols and the pieces of technology under-the-hood enabling it. Most notably, the article refers to the emergence of a hybrid OpenADR (Open Automated Demand Response) & SEP (Smart Energy Profile) 2.0 solution being considered across the board by multiple utilities, which in my opinion is a key requirement for any viable solution.