Smart Grid

Big Batteries Are Starting to Boost the Electric Grid

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 5, 2014   View Article

Long hailed as a game changer that will allow unlimited amounts of wind and solar energy onto the electric power grid, big rechargeable batteries are beginning to move out of research labs and find a home amid the real-world tangle of smokestacks, turbines and power lines. Today, the reality falls short of the hype about fossil-fuel-free electricity — but experts say that future could be in store.

For the foreseeable future, electric utilities will rely on coal, gas and nuclear power plants to provide a steady base of power, according to Paul Denholm, a senior analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. But batteries can help balance the flow of electricity as demand ramps up and down throughout the day.

“That is where the hot applications are right now for energy storage,” he told NBC News.

Bank of 1,440 lithium-ion batteries to make power grid smarter

Publication: NBC News   Date: May 31, 2013   View Article

A bank of lithium-ion batteries big enough to supply about 500 U.S. homes with electricity during a power outage went online today to demonstrate the future of smart grid technologies.

The 5-megawatt battery is a piece of a larger, government-backed $178 million research project in the Pacific Northwest to make the electric grid more efficient and friendly to additional loads of renewable energy such as wind and solar, which fluctuate depending on the weather and time of day.

Smarter electric grids could help us weather stormy future

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 30, 2012   View Article

As of Tuesday morning, Sandy was blamed for power outages affecting more than 8 million people. Although of little help to people in the dark today, so-called smart-grid technologies being installed around the country will make the electric grid more resilient to future storms, according to an industry expert.

One caveat: “It is economically unfeasible to storm-proof your system, and by storm-proof I mean resilient to anything that could happen,” Dean Oskvig, president of engineering consulting firm Black & Veatch’s global energy business, told NBC News Tuesday.

Technologist wins ‘genius’ award for sensor tech

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 20, 2011   View Article

Your credit card bill tells you how much you spent on gas last Tuesday, groceries on Wednesday, and football tickets on Friday night. Wouldn’t it be helpful if your electric bill did something similar?

This isn’t pie in the sky for Shwetak Patel, a 29-year-old technologist who received a $500,000 “genius” grant Tuesday for his work on inexpensive and easy-to-deploy sensors that can make our lives more efficient and enjoyable.

Can EVs solve wind power puzzle?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: September 13, 2011   View Article

Electric vehicles outfitted with a $10 computer chip can help streamline the addition of wind power to the electric grid, according to a study that shows how the two types of technology could piece together the puzzle of our green energy future.

One of the biggest hurdles utilities face with the addition of wind power and other renewable sources of energy to the grid is where and how to store excess generation for use when people actually need it. Until that happens, if the wind blows when nobody needs electricity, for example, the energy is wasted.

Is the smart grid too smart for us?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 21, 2011   View Article

The Obama administration unveiled a string of new initiatives last week that will pump political muscle and federal dollars into the development of the smart grid. Did you miss the news? You’re not alone. Most of us don’t really know what the smart grid is or care that much about it.

This lack of knowledge about and interest in the smart grid is the biggest impediment to its implementation, the energy consulting firm Black and Veatch found in its annual survey on the electric utility industry.

Can traffic lights help save energy?

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: March 9, 2011   View Article

Humans are visual creatures. When we see a red traffic light, we know to apply the brakes. Electric utilities are hoping a new generation of traffic light-like smart meter monitors will help people curb their energy consumption.

“When information is in real time and it’s in your face it helps change habits,” Catherine Cuellar, a spokeswoman for Oncor, an electric utility in Texas that is piloting two of the new monitors, told me Wednesday.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach