Smart grids are what every city should aspire toward — and researchers expect this technology to grow 8.7% each year until around 2026. They link the town together and can help the area generate renewable energy that powers the homes and devices of the people who live there.
A smart grid pulls everything together and helps generate energy for everything in a single town. While it may seem like a far-off dream, smart power grids are the next big thing for cities.
Benefits of a Smart Power Grid
A smart power grid can sound like more trouble than it’s worth to someone who doesn’t understand all its benefits. These grids can help keep everything in a city running as it should.
Blackouts and natural disasters could be more frequent due to climate change. A centralized smart power grid can ensure that everyone has electricity again shortly after it goes out — thereby reducing the frustration and difficulty people may have navigating through their days without power.
Smart grids can also ensure reduced costs for both the city and its residents. Since the quality of power will increase thanks to the better electricity transmission through the updated grid, people may notice they won’t use as much energy, especially if they have energy-efficient devices. The city may also see a push for more renewable energy, allowing them to create a future everyone can be part of.
Necessary Technology for a Smarter World
When a city implements a smart power grid, its citizens are bound to see an increase in quality of life. However, this change cannot happen overnight. Cities that develop these grids will have to implement several technologies to transition smoothly and continue functioning well throughout the years to come.
1. Electric Vehicles
More renewable energy options mean that people will have a greater incentive to switch to a vehicle that does less harm to the planet and runs off of renewable resources. Since fossil fuels eventually will run out, electric vehicles are the best investment for a better future. Currently, affordability and space for electric chargers could stop most people from opting for them.
Places like universities and other high-traffic areas have begun to implement more charging stations to accommodate those who visit with electric cars. Once a city gets on a smart power grid, it may be easier to implement more charging stations, allowing more people to feel comfortable buying an electric vehicle.
2. Massive Firewalls
With a massive smart system comes the trickiness of hackers. Someone will want to break in and challenge the design. As such, cities must prepare themselves with dynamic firewalls that can stand against any threat. While nobody will physically see the firewalls, they’re crucial to any smart grid’s infrastructure that designers can’t overlook. Without them, a smart grid in any city wouldn’t last long.
While locking down the smart grid system, cities may also encourage inhabitants to change their passwords regularly and protect their electronic devices and accounts. The only sure-fire way to prevent losing all sensitive information is to routinely change passwords, safeguard accounts with two-factor security and back up all data in case the worst happens.
3. Energy Storage
In a city powered by a smart grid, they can store energy for later use. It’s similar to how solar power works — a building that runs off solar energy doesn’t instantly lose electricity once the sun goes down.
Either by way of a trusty home generator or another reserve, a citywide smart power grid could likely use stored energy to power homes and businesses when one of the main lines of power is down. That way, people wouldn’t have to be without electricity for long and can still go through their days while a primary resource needs repairs.
4. Self-Sufficient Buildings
Right now, most buildings rely on outside sources to provide them with everything they need. Net-zero buildings — ones that thrive without outside help — can create as much energy as they deplete, making them ultimately better for the environment.
Commercial buildings could install solar panels on their roofs to power themselves or other smaller buildings around them. The idea of “smart” structures is to make them as environmentally friendly as possible for a greener future.
5. Smart Meters
Smart meters can record energy usage for individual households. Other meters have existed for a while, but smart meters can keep track of everything to the very second. They work as part of a smart grid and can keep households up-to-date on their power quality and outages. These meters can reduce the overall energy load and supports communication between individual meters and the power source.
Having smart meters in every home could help families understand where their energy goes and how much they use. The United States makes up around 5% of the world’s population, yet it uses around 15% of all available energy.
If families know where their usage is going, they’ll learn when to cut back and in what areas of life they need more energy. Smart meters can help them become more eco-friendly and avoid surprises on monthly energy bills.
A Brighter Future With Smart Power Grids
With more control over how they use their energy, consumers will likely support the change that a smart power grid in the city can give them. The real-time monitoring of power grids can help cities experience less frequent blackouts that last for long periods. Only time will tell where cities will be at that point, but many believe they’ll be embracing a smarter way to function.