Saturday, August 21, 2010

Countries across the world embracing Smart Grid .. Part-1

Smart Grid is a hot buzz these days on the news, commercials, business, technology, and political spectrum. Over the years various technologies have changed but the energy grid, designed over 80-100 years ago has remained more or less the same. As it is said, if Graham Bell is to visit the earth today he would not recognize the communication technologies, but if Edison were to visit he would very well figure out the energy grid. The challenges of Global warming, limited conventional energy resources, increasing demand of energy, global energy security, and energy efficiency are the key concern for countries across the world. Smart Grid, which is an umbrella term for collection of technologies is set to play key role in meeting these energy challenges facing us today.    Smart Grid for India takes a closer look of the countries that are pursuing this technology to revolutionize their energy infrastructure which is said to have potential to transform the energy and utility industry the way Internet transformed the computer industry and may have same impact as internet has in our lives.

The United States : The US is at the forefront of Smart Grid technology race. Almost a year ago the Obama government allocated $3.4 billion stimulus budget for the Smart Grid technologies,  so far the government has allocated most of the stimulus fund to the selected companies,  universities, and organizations.  The United States has largest Smart Grid program going on in the world where governments, organizations, companies, universities, and utilities are collaborating for new Smart Grid standards, developing innovative products, setting up training institutes, initiating pilot projects, starting companies, and establishing consumer advocacy groups.

Smart Grid Projects in USA (Courtesy Smart Grid Clearing house)
Key developments
Canada : The northern neighbor of US is equally active in transforming its archaic grid  to Smart Grid. Canadian government is funding the utilities smart grid initiatives under the clean energy fund. The government plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years in clean energy. Ontario is leading the Smart Grid movement in Canada through its energy conservation responsibility Act of 2006 by which it has mandated that all the businesses and household be equipped with smart meter by 2010.

Key developments
  • Canadian provinces Calgary, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island have received $2.5 to $20 million funding from the government for various Smart  Grid demonstration projects.
  •  Hydro One, the Ontario utility with its Smart Grid partner Trilliant is actively pursuing Smart Grid initiative in Ontario region. It has installed more than 1.2 million Smart Meters in Ontario. Soon, Hydro One will have Time-of-Use(TOU) pricing mechanism for its consumers
  •  BC Hydro (British Columbia), EnMax (Calgary), Fortis Alberta(Alberta) and other provincial utilities across the nation have started Smart Grid projects which are at various stages of implementation.
  • Toronto Hydro, the Toronto energy provider has completed Smart Meter installation in Toronto. It has started Time-of-Use(TOU) pricing mechanism for its residential consumers.
  • Organizations like Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) are spearheading the Smart Grid movement through Ontario Smart Grid Forum and Ontario Smart Grid Task Force
Mexico : Mexico is taking active interest in Smart Grid developments in North America, but  as of now the country do not have any national Smart Grid plans. The Country is participating in International forums like International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) and is member for many of the ISGAN working groups. The Mexico city power supplier CFE is planning to upgrade its aging infrastructure for which it is actively considering to used Smart Grid technologies for the new upgrades.

Part -1, Part -2, Part-3, Part-4

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