Experts have decried congressional and academic reliance on a mathematical model for understanding complex systems that suggests an attack on a small part of the U.S. power grid could disrupt the entire power system network.
Despite a trendy moniker and lots of hype and interest, the smart grid has been facing some major setbacks of late, as regulators and customers begin challenging some of the claims for what interconnected smart meters will deliver in the way of tangible benefits.
The University of California, San Diego (see “Smart Power Generation at UCSD”) is just one of many combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, systems in the U.S. A 2008 report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), “Combined Heat and Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future,” notes that Texas has the most CHP capacity—much of it used by the petrochemical and petroleum refining industries. California ranks second, largely a result of “industrial demands, stringent air quality requirements, and effective policies that encourage adoption of CHP.”
The smart grid, a truly disruptive business force, will require a new regulatory paradigm and new approaches to the electric utility business model.
“Smart Power Generation at UCSD” explains how the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is maximizing the value of combined heat and power. However, like any other grid-controlling entity large or small, the campus has to match generation and load. Its two Solar Turbines gas turbines operate in baseload mode 24/7 while the cogeneration side of the plant maximizes the value of “waste” heat and electricity that isn’t needed to serve immediate load by generating steam and chilled water for campus heating and cooling.
Presenters at the inaugural GridWise Global Forum in Washington, D.C., September 21 to 23 had a lot to say about the prospects for smarter grids. This synopsis of facts and opinions shared at the event, which attracted several smart grid A-listers, looks at the major challenges ahead, especially for the U.S.
The University of California, San Diego has been accumulating awards for its savvy use of a constellation of power generation and energy-saving technologies. The campus already controls a fully functioning microgrid—including a cogeneration plant—and, as befits a research institution, is constantly looking for new ways to make its energy system smarter. This “living laboratory,” as campus leaders like to call it, demonstrates what it takes to build a smarter grid and why the effort is worth it.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has finalized its initial set of smart grid cyber security guidelines. NIST’s Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security (NISTIR 7628) includes high-level security requirements, a framework for assessing risks, an evaluation of privacy issues in personal residences, and other information for organizations to use as they craft strategies to protect the modernizing power grid from attacks, malicious code, cascading errors, and other threats, according to NIST’s press release.
The National Security Agency is launching a program to protect the grid from cyber attack, along with other civilian and military critical infrastructure, while a new Department of Energy report highlights grid vulnerabilities.
As state regulators examine whether the smart grid benefits consumers, a federal agency is looking at what information consumers need to take advantage of the technology.