The smart grid is a digital network that unites electrical providers, power-delivery systems and customers, and allows two-way communication between the utility and its customers. Smart grids have the potential to improve the efficiency of energy distribution and usage, both through the grid's design and through consumer participation. Though smart grids aren’t in widespread use yet in the United States, some U.S. utilities have begun smart grid pilot projects or have deployed smart meters in residential areas.
It is estimated that smart grid enhancements will ease congestion and increase utilization (of full capacity), sending 50% to 300% more electricity through existing energy corridors. Given population growth and the exponential increase in the number of power-hungry digital components in our digital economy, additional infrastructure must be built – Smart or not.
Text by Noel Kirkpatrick