Smart grid technology is quickly moving from theory to reality inmany parts of the United States. The technology consists of a group ofnew energy delivery techniques based on ideas that started over 100years ago in the mind of Nikolai Tesla. He saw a world where power wasdelivered on demand from a centralized power generator, going in bothdirections so that nothing was wasted.
Much of today’s technology focuses on the way appliances handleenergy, like smart appliances that know when to draw power and when notto draw power. Changes to the delivery methods of power from the powerstations may take more innovation and time to accomplish. Tomorrow’stechnology workers will have to solve problems of efficiency,integration and returning unused energy to the grid.
Grid Needs Multiple Sources and Storage Solutions
A true smart grid system relies on more than one source of power. The power sources need to be spread evenly along the grid in order toprovide the maximum amount of power to smaller geographic areas. Windturbines, photovoltaic panels, and solar power collection sites couldreplace the larger traditional power stations.
A smart grid also needs more manageable power storage solutions. Asthe power is collected from the various sources, it needs to be storedin batteries that can send the power out in the appropriate amounts asneeded. Controlling the power distribution at this finite level willrequire highly sophisticated devices.
One of the main challenges that tech workers will face as powerstations shift to smart grid technology is dealing with the equipmentthat is currently installed. In many cases, the old equipment usestechnology that cannot be converted to the smart grid system. Workerswill need to uninstall the old equipment and replace it with updatedtechnology without disrupting the energy that is being supplied by thepower plant. Extensive tests will need to be run before power plantswill be ready to install the new technology, which could createextremely high costs for the changeover process.
Blending the Grids
In the United States, today’s power grids are managed on a state bystate basis rather than a federal system. That means that each state has its own equipment and configuration based on the system that the staterelies on. With a smart grid, the states would need to find a way toblend their systems together into a more seamless power grid. Thepolitics involved in such an undertaking could take several years toresolve before the workers can even begin to install the new system.Once the politicians are happy, the work that will be needed to createlinks from state to state could be daunting.
Jessica Bosari blogs for Technology-Colleges.info. The site provides useful advice and information for those thinkingabout computer science careers and answers questions like, “What is thetop health informatics salary new graduates can expect?”