The Obama Administration has made investment in new energy technologies—renewable and otherwise—the cornerstone of its strategy for reviving the national economy. Smart grid investment is a major component of that investment.
Along those lines, in November, the U.S. Department of Energy announced more than $19 million in grants for five projects. Private investment will be about $11 million, bringing the overall total investment to more than $30 million.
Smart grid technologies are designed to facilitate the integration of more renewable energy into the nation’s grid, but they are also capable of producing tremendous cost savings by providing consumers with critical information on energy use, which could contribute to greater efficiency.
The smart grid projects employ such technologies as remote control and automation, two-way communications, and information technology to better inform consumers and utilities, resulting in more efficient use, transmission and generation of electricity. The DOE works with industry, universities, national laboratories, and other groups to conduct research, development, and demonstration projects that lead to commercially available smart grid technologies.
Along those lines, the projects and companies selected include the design and testing of an innovative platform for integrating distributed energy resources into the grid by Areva T&D Inc. Boeing Co. will demonstrate a smart, highly automated electric distribution management system that will allow more customer-owned energy resources and automation into the distribution system. ABB Inc. will research, develop and demonstrate a real-time monitoring, control, and health management system to improve grid reliability and efficiency. Varentec Inc. will research and develop a wide range of next-generation power electronics devices to better integrate renewable resources. Lastly, On-Ramp Wireless Inc. will develop and demonstrate a wireless grid sensor and a faulted circuit indicator capable of monitoring underground and other hard-to-reach distribution circuit locations.