“Smart grid” is a term recognized now in many circles, but why exactly does the grid need to be smarter? For one, the current power grid has trouble matching power supply and demand, wasting energy or leading to outages. Power must be generated from a relatively small number of very large facilities, and in quantities that meticulously fit the predicted load curve. This problem stems partly from the fact that the grid was built to facilitate only unidirectional flow of power and control – a topology that is increasingly more costly to maintain. This means that today’s infrastructure is not only less efficient and less robust, but it is also incapable of incorporating a significant amount of renewable and non-dispatchable energy sources into the grid.
Viewed at its highest level, the smart grid can be understood as any and all technologies, standards, and practices that contribute to a more efficient and more reliable power grid. Simply enabling greater consumer participation can accomplish much of this, and is an overarching goal of smart grid. Dynamic energy pricing allows consumers to adjust when and how high-load devices are used, ultimately lowering energy bills and reducing the demand spikes which can lead to power outages. A smart appliance can even do this automatically, optimizing its operation to minimize cost and waste – a feature of smart grid called “prices-to-devices”.
Smart grid technology promises this and many additional methods for reducing waste, lowering peak demand, improving grid reliability, and integrating renewable resources. The roll-out of smart meter devices has been significant and smart grid technology continues to gain momentum with each new innovation. The power grid may have been created "dumb", but TTI Inc. offers the newest products and tools to help raise its IQ.