Modernizing our electric grid means improving our energy frameworks on a macro scale.
Grid Modernization Technology

Technologies: Grid Modernization

The electricity sector is undergoing a fundamental change as new technologies are transforming the way electricity is generated, distributed, and used. With the decreasing costs of renewable energy, energy storage, and electric vehicles, more homeowners and communities will begin adopting these technologies to meet a variety of needs driven by reducing costs and environmental impacts, as well as increasing sustainability and reliability.

What the electric grid of the future will look like is still being determined; however, there is consensus that a “smarter grid” is required to ensure that evolving customer needs are met.

Our grid modernization services include:

  • Expert advisory services
  • Zero emission fleet optimization
  • Project assessment and development

Download an overview of our Grid Modernization Services here.

Grid Modernization Technology

Solas Energy offers an understanding of current and emerging regulatory frameworks to enable grid modernization, challenges facing the electricity sector, and emerging technology solutions and business models to support deployment.

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Technically, energy itself is not stored. Rather, it is converted to other forms of energy instead of the original, and then can be stored and reconverted to electricity later, when needed. There are many different ways that the energy can be stored, such as a battery, compressed air, flywheel, and pumped hydro storage.

There are different lengths of time that energy can be stored as well. For instance, certain technologies can only store energy on a short-term basis, while others can do so for a longer amount of time. It is important to note that energy storage also involves converting energy from forms that are harder to store, as well as those that are not as economically stable– not just the act of storing itself. 

There are many different forms of energy. It comes in chemical, radiation, electricity, kinetic, latent heat, and more. It can then be stored in many different ways, too, as mentioned above. For example, a very common storage option is that of a rechargeable battery– this stores the chemical energy needed to convert to electricity to charge a cell phone.

Fossil fuels, which are commonly used to power our homes and businesses, also store energy. They store the energy that ancient organisms had derived from the sun. When these organisms died, they were buried and eventually converted into the fossil fuels we know as gasoline or coal. Currently, most energy storage is with hydroelectric dams– which can be conventional or pumped.

This is where the energy is stored in a reservoir as gravitational energy.

Electricity is not something that can be stored as itself on the grid. Instead, it needs to be converted to other forms of energy so that it can be stored for later use. Once this electricity is needed, the energy will be converted back to electricity so that it can be used for the purpose it is needed for. This is what is referred to as electric storage.

When an energy system is being set up, there are different ways that the energy can be stored, so cost-effectiveness is one of the features that will be looked at in order to set up the best energy storage system option. The systems are also limited in the amount of energy that they are able to store. 

The categories of electricity storage include flywheel, battery, compressed air and pumped hydro storage. Each of these has different strengths and can be the best choice for an energy system, depending on the system’s needs. For example, pumped storage symptoms have a longer life than some of the other kinds of energy storage.

Their equipment can last up to 50 years. If the system is bolstered with batteries, the equipment may be able to last even longer. In comparison, battery electricity storage systems only last about 15 years. Pumped hydroelectric storage is associated with dams– the water is pumped back to a high storage dam on the river during off-peak hours, and then the water is released through turbines when needed to be converted to electricity.

Batteries, on the other hand, store the energy and then release it electrochemically.  

First things first, what is the grid? The grid refers to a network of producers and consumers for the purpose of electricity delivery. Grid modernization means making changes and updates such as deploying more clean energy or adding more transmission infrastructure.

There are many ways grid modernization can be beneficial, both in the short term and in the long term. It can also have an impact on you as an individual, as well as a larger impact on the community as a whole. 

One of the most immediate things that modernizing the grid can do is decrease your own energy bills. This is because the current grid generates power on one end and then transmits it to the consumers on the other end. Constantly generating and distributing energy is expensive. Distributed energy resources need to be upgraded as technology improves.

Grid modernization would allow for two-way communication and data flows, which will help the operators and grid operations run the grid closer to its full potential and therefore run it closer to full capacity. Another thing that modernizing the grid can do is create fewer power outages, as they will be able to be pinpointed more quickly and solved for faster.

Modernizing the grid will give us more energy choices, too, so that we can use renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources. This can help to reduce emissions and reduce the effect that our energy use has on the planet that we call home.

Smart grids are not the same as the electrical grid that we had previously discussed. A smart grid refers to a package of interconnected IT technologies that help to make the grid itself more reliable, flexible, and efficient.

They can also help to make power more accessible in certain areas. Unfortunately, smart grids are still not the norm everywhere, though their implementation can be greatly beneficial. 

Right now, the smart grid market is doing very well. Many countries are now implementing smart grid technology with the involvement of their governments. For instance, the United States government invested billions of dollars into R & D for smart grid technologies.

Since many companies and countries have this funding, we are able to make great strides in smart grid technology. This brings us closer to implementing them everywhere and having smart grid technology be the new normal across the board! 

Some of the issues that we still face with smart grid technology are demand response, energy storage, network communications, interoperability, and distribution grid management.

These are some of the challenges that need to be addressed to make smart grid technology as successful as possible. In the future, these will have been solved and addressed so that smart grids are not running into these same issues.

Smart grid technology refers to the electric energy grid in an area. They implement IT and analysis in order to improve the efficiency and reliability of the grid. The smart grid also encourages the flow of two-way electricity and data, unlike what occurs in an existing, non-smart, grid.

The grid implements digital communications data that is able to detect, react, and proact to the many changes that could occur in usage– as well as other issues.

They even have what can be considered self-healing capabilities and can enable their electricity customers to become more active participants in the process. 

A smart grid has three main features. These are referred to as availability, integrity, and confidentiality. These are their cyber security objectives, and there are often particular security requirements for the smart grid.

This is important, as cyber security is an ever-present concern these days with all of our technological advances. 

The smart grid also has a set of advantages and disadvantages– many of the disadvantages are being researched to try and perfect the smart grid. One of the main advantages of this kind of energy grid is that it is able to more efficiently transmit electricity than other types of energy grids.

After power disturbances, a smart grid is also able to restore power faster. Because the smart grid runs more efficiently, it is able to cut down on energy costs for its consumers– the reduced peak demand of a smart grid also contributes to this. However, the overhead costs of the smart grid are often expensive and setting it up is time-consuming, which affects the cost of labour.

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is two-way communication through an integrated system of sensors and equipment for enhanced energy monitoring. The idea is that detailed metering information throughout the service (grid) can help make it more efficient and safe. This also means that meters are fed back to the service provider rather than them coming door to door to check on usage.

Grid Modernization depends on data and reducing carbon emissions. Grid modernization and “the grid of the future” means that energy is supplied consistently and as cleanly as possible. Renewable energy sources like solar generation and wind power are great for producing energy, but the power grid needs to be able to deliver that energy as well.

About Solas Energy

Solas Energy provides comprehensive strategy and consulting services to support the energy transition. With over 20 years of experience in project development, construction management, and climate change advisory, Solas Energy provides its clients with the depth and perspective required to navigate the complex issues associated with renewable energy project development and climate change policy. 

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