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Grid Modernization: New Technologies Transforming the grid

Bhagvan Kommadi's picture
Founder of First Quantum Computing Startup in India Architect Corner

Bhagvan Kommadi is the Founder of Architect Corner - AI startup and has around 20 years of experience in the industry, ranging from large-scale enterprise development to help incubate software...

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  • May 25, 2021 3:30 pm GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2021 - 05 - Grid Modernization, click here for more

U.S Electric Grid is a dream project which will transform power generation. The output will be 1 million megawatts of energy. New technologies like the Smart grid are helping to achieve this dream. Smart grid technology helps in building platform which has features like two-way communication, control systems, and computer processing. This project will create an ecosystem of manufacturers, energy service providers, asset owners, and government officers. Private and public providers are partnering with the Office of Electricity in the U.S.A  to provide different energy sources which are clean, reliable, and secure.

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This project is modernizing the electric grid. Smart Grid will generate energy that is efficient and reliable. The power outages will come down.  Energy service will be restored faster and storm impact will be lesser. Security will be improved. Peak loads of energy are decreased. Renewables will be added to the smart grid to cut down the operational costs.

The smart grid platform will use phasor measurement units which helps the operators and stabilize the grid. Advanced smart meters will help in sending the correct information. Smart meters also help in reporting power outages and recovering from errors in the substation. They can reroute energy around the problems. Grid modernization will change the smart grid by adding the latest energy delivery system. This initiative helps in the transmission and distribution of energy.

New tools, software, technologies, and frameworks are being developed to analyze, control, predict, and measure the smart grid. Different sources of energy are part of this initiative which will help the U.S.A to compete in the global energy community. This initiative will reduce the country-wide blackouts and generating clean energy. The current power outages are caused by the ice storms, hurricanes, windstorms, and extreme summers. The energy resource is combined with renewable energy sources. The smart grid becomes more reliable by using smart grid technologies and infrastructure hardening.

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New technologies which are emerging in grid modernization are changing generation mix, renewable generation, energy storage, IoT sensors, latest grid controls, and upgraded cybersecurity. The energy generation mix  is based on solar and wind energy resources. This was based on coal and natural gas. Fossil fuels are the major source in the current grid. The other energy sources which are in the mix are hydro and nuclear.

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Renewable energy and storage of energy are becoming popular because of solar and wind energy generation. Batteries and fuel cells are the key focus of the energy storage initiative. The storage industry's focus is on the electric vehicle as it helps electric vehicles penetrate the automotive sector. Stored energy is becoming the replacement for petrol and diesel. The pollution levels will come down because of the usage of electric vehicles.

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Smart grid sensors help in controlling and monitoring energy levels. The current focus is on the distribution of energy by using advanced distribution management systems. The other area of focus is on the advanced distribution management system. This is because grid performance increase with new generation resources. AMI data, customer usage, and PMU measurements related to synchrophasor are stored for big data analysis. This analysis helps in the grid control and protection. PMU measurement data is gathered from the Smart grid to check for the oscillation modes damping. AMI data is used for the improvement of voltage controls.

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New energy sources create issues in the system related to generation and storage. Interconnection standards are the focus of this initiative. Smart controls related to power electronics are added to improve the control. The other area of concern is cybersecurity and resiliency. Security loopholes need to be identified for a possible cyber attack. Technology defenses need to be added to the Smart grid to protect itself from cyber attacks or physical disasters. The restoration tools are added to the system to ensure quick resiliency. New Reliability standards are added to the system by NERC and FERC.

Future initiatives from the government will focus on wind and solar energy sources. Many of the coal plants will be closed, and the focus is on renewable energy sources. Noncarbon energy generation and clean energy are the key goals of the grid modernization initiative. The initial cost will be high because of the investments in carbon-free energy generation. The renewable transmission project is a new initiative that is starting in 2021. Grid operation digitization and optimization are the other key projects which will be kicked off soon. Smart grid infrastructure will be upgraded to enable bidirectional communication between the consumer and service provider.

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