Nations around the globe are getting smarter
about their energy needs:
; China plans to invest US$7.3 billion this year in smart-grid technology—a figure believed
to be more than any other nation. The State Grid Corp., one of China’s two power giants,
recently began the nation’s first smart-grid project in Tianjin. The initial phase is scheduled for completion next year, and 25 percent of its output will be renewable energy.
; By the end of the year, every home and small business in Ontario, Canada is scheduled
to have a smart meter installed—at an estimated total cost of CA$1 billion—as part of
the Energy Conservation Responsibility Act. The province is on pace to meet that goal,
with 3. 5 million of the 4. 3 million meters in place as of February.
;Last October, U.S. President Barack Obama announced 100 grants totaling
US$3.4 billion for smart-grid projects, including upgrading to smart meters and
installing more grid sensors.
; The SuperSmart Grid, proposed by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research and the European Climate Forum, is still in the conceptual phase.
Tapping the solar and wind resources of North African deserts, the project would
use high-voltage direct-current technology to provide renewable energy for that
region as well as Europe.
they even have them, says Ken Van
Meter, principal of the energy and cyber
services division at global technology
giant Lockheed Martin, Valley Forge,
He finds that many companies set
out to launch smart-grid projects without defining benchmarks for themselves
or their customers. “Without clear
goals, these projects fall off a cliff,”
Electric companies need to think
about who the end-users are. That can
help determine whether the utility
should roll out a partial project to a
larger audience or a complete solution
to a smaller test group.
“You have to understand what you
are trying to build and create a plan that
will work for a long time,” Mr. Van
Meter says. “Utilities use the same tech-
nology forever, so you can’t just plan for
one or two years down the road.”
Then there’s all that red tape. Project
managers must understand the regula-
tions governing smart-grid projects and
recognize that each country—and
many utility companies—follow their
own set of rules, says Marcos Rizzo, vice
president of business development,
ELO Sistemas Electrónicos S.A., an
energy industry equipment provider in
Porto Alegre, Brazil.