With the ever-evolving demand for energy and the uptake in digitalisation, experts state that the smart grid’s ability to deliver energy in an optimised manner can lead the global ecosystem on the road to sustainability.
According to news reports, more than a billion people in the world do not have access to electricity and nearly three billion people are still burning things to cook meals and heat their homes. As technologies with big data, IoT and AI continue to evolve, utility companies are faced with the option to evolve or not. On the other hand, the advancements pave the way for a future with smart energy meters in every home and sensors that take measurements in intervals in every energy meter. In time to come, society will come to a point where they will need sustainable infrastructure to cope with their ever-evolving consumption of energy.
According to the initial results of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)’s global renewable energy roadmap-REMAP230 (established to double the share of renewables in the world’s renewable power mix by 2030), renewables in the electricity would need to double from today’s current mix of 20% to at least 40% to achieve this target.
Enter the smart grid. This system uses computer technology to enable communication and automation between the end-users and distributors within a power network. In contrast to traditional power systems, the information just flows from the generators to the users, whereas the smart grid connects to many different components within the system, allowing the user to manage their system with an automated approach, according to the Energy Commission.
This process allows the power producers to determine the peak of the user’s energy consumption pattern, enabling both the consumer and supplier to gain real-time online readings with these smart meters. After the consumer has gained real-time readings, they would be able to monitor their electricity consumption and feasibly manage it.
As a result, by automating these online readings and the monitoring of the consumer’s energy supply, smart grids provide the information to the consumer, while helping to reduce the their energy consumption.
In a survey by the Energy Commission, smart grids have:
- Increased renewable generation
- Reduced the demand for electricity and its new loads
- Increased distributed energy and resources
- Played a role in reducing the peak demand constraints
- Played a role in curbing climate change
- And more.
The emergence of smart grid technologies come at a timely fashion, as they open up opportunities to developing and emerging countries such as avoid lock-in of outdated energy infrastructure, attract new investment systems and create efficient systems that can combat the increasing demand of energy power sources. Smart grids improve the overall grid performance and enable renewables to have higher levels of penetration, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The technologies can integrate renewables such as solar and wind for example, with a wide range of diverse electricity resources to function in a cohesive manner for the consumer.
In IRENA’s initial results global renewable energy roadmap-REMAP230 (established to double the share of renewables in the world’s renewable power mix by 2030), renewables in the electricity would need to double from today’s current mix of 20% to at least 40% to achieve this target. Through the use of the smart grid, consumers will be able to consume multiple resources of renewable energy in a more integrated, efficient and cost-effective fashion. Not only can the smart grid equip consumers with the tools on how to save energy, but they will also inform consumers on saving cost, time and effort.
With the national interest and targets towards driving a more sustainable nation in mind, it is only a matter of time when smart grid will open up new opportunities within solar energy, as it will improve the efficiency and flexibility of the traditional grid.
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Energy Malaysia Volume 6
International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)