PRLog - Sep. 11, 2012 - The average big electric utility is a sprawling network that is buzzing with energy but contains surprisingly little data about that energy. Managers at utilities can't "see" very deep into the thousands of substations and millions of meters that make up the Power grid. Some utilities still learn about a neighborhood electrical outage not because it shows up on any of their sophisticated monitoring equipment, but because customers call them on the phone and complain that the power's out.
This paucity of real-time information is one of the challenges that utility companies and IT vendors are addressing with a modernization effort known as the Intelligent Power Grids "smart grid." Once utilities and consumers have finer-grained information about power use, both the supply of power and the demand for it can be managed more efficiently. For instance, consumers could be guided to move some electricity consumption to off-peak hours, reducing the need for dirtier and more expensive power plants to be activated at peak hours.
But before this can happen on a widespread basis, the utilities need to prepare for an onslaught of data—as other industries have done. The challenge of upgrading IT systems accordingly is one of the reasons the smart grid is "in its infancy".
An additional challenge for utility companies is that they run their central control operations on a mix of legacy network systems or non-unified equipment, most of which can't communicate with each other.
It's relatively simple to equip a consumption location with a "smart meter" that can generate second-by-second data on power use in the location. But because most utilities simply don't have unified network systems or unified communication and correct smart devices to transmit or store this data, those that have already installed smart meters generally "poll" the individual meters just once a day, lest they be overwhelmed with data they can't handle.
The smart grid will address this massive challenge via an intelligent network infrastructure, which optimizes energy distribution through interconnected networks of always-on, two-way data systems between power providers and consumption locations (Consumers).
Through sensors, meters and distributed automation, the intelligent grid will dynamically manage power supply by constant evaluation of usage information and needs.
The Intelligent Power Grids “Smart grid” will enable choices and control by everyone on the grid, from power plant to consumers, so that the grid can become a more dynamic, balanced system.
The author of the article, Prof. Mamoun A. Shahin is the CEO and Founder of DMC International Group will lead the chair on day 1 of the 2nd Annual Smart Grids And Smart Meters Summit organized by Fleming Gulf's Utility Division to be held on 08 & 09 October 2012 at the Park Rotana, Abu Dhabi – U.A.E. He will share his insights on factors metering the current growth in the technology of Smart Grids and Smart Meters industry with the latest trends in the downstream.