The New Grid Architecture And New Energy
Clean energy technologies threaten to overwhelm the grid. Here’s how it can adapt.The centralized, top-down power grid is outdated. Time for a bottom-up redesign.
David Roberts, December 3, 2018 (VOX)
"The US power grid is, by some estimates, the largest machine in the world, a continent-spanning wonder of the modern age. And despite its occasional well-publicized failures, it is remarkably reliable…[But] the grid is stressed out. Blackouts due to extreme weather (hurricanes, floods, wildfires) are on the rise, in part due to climate change, which is only going to get worse…[And a] system designed around big, centralized power plants and one-way power flows is grinding against the rise of smarter, cleaner technologies that offer new ways to generate and manage energy at the local level…[Energy professionals say is the time to rethink grid architecture] from the ground up…[T]here are two opposing proposals, one that doubles down on the current, top-down system..[and one] that would redesign the grid system around a new bottom-up paradigm…
…DERs can increasingly help smooth out the variations in demand and renewable energy production locally, without calling on distant power plants…[but the system is] designed for one-way power flows…The question now is whether, given the continued development and profusion of DERs, the existing grid architecture can keep pace…[Some say new communication and automation technologies can allow a decentralized, layered structure] would be responsible for its own optimization and its own reliability…[This] architecture would put more power in local hands…[Each layer] would have financial incentive to optimize its own resources and maximize its own self-sufficiency — to produce as much power as possible and consume as little as possible. That would create enormous demand-side pull for DER innovation…[and] manage complexity, speed decarbonization, and enhance local resilience…” click here for more