Smart Grid - Background - Modernization Opportunities

Modernization Opportunities

Since the early 21st century, opportunities to take advantage of improvements in electronic communication technology to resolve the limitations and costs of the electrical grid have become apparent. Technological limitations on metering no longer force peak power prices to be averaged out and passed on to all consumers equally. In parallel, growing concerns over environmental damage from fossil-fired power stations has led to a desire to use large amounts of renewable energy. Dominant forms such as wind power and solar power are highly variable, and so the need for more sophisticated control systems became apparent, to facilitate the connection of sources to the otherwise highly controllable grid. Power from photovoltaic cells (and to a lesser extent wind turbines) has also, significantly, called into question the imperative for large, centralised power stations. The rapidly falling costs point to a major change from the centralised grid topology to one that is highly distributed, with power being both generated and consumed right at the limits of the grid. Finally, growing concern over terrorist attack in some countries has led to calls for a more robust energy grid that is less dependent on centralised power stations that were perceived to be potential attack targets.

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