What is an intelligent network?
Smart grids are a system generated to overcome the weakness of conventional electricity networks through the use of smart grid meters. They enable surveillance, analysis, control and communication within the energy supply chain to improve efficiency, reduce consumption and costs, and increase the transparency and reliability of the system.
In other words, by leveraging automation tools and other cutting-edge technologies, smart grids provide a robust response to the changing electricity demand of the 21st century.
Its name combines the term “network”, referring to a network of transmission lines, substations, transformers and installations that supply electricity from the power plant to homes or businesses, and “intelligent”, related to the implementation of digital technology in the traditional networks.
The principle that governs them is that energy is often lost because it must be consumed at the moment of its generation, and a more intelligent system can help us to make the transition to much more efficient networks.
How does an intelligent network work?
An intelligent network is an installation where the levels of consumption are visible at all times, not only through the electric bill, but through the monitoring and measurement of the electrical behavior of each of the devices connected to the infrastructure.
To achieve this, the intelligent network incorporates computer systems capable of automatically responding to fluctuations in energy production, but also to demand. Thanks to this innovative approach, both the end user and the distributor have more information, which paves the way for a more responsible use of energy throughout the cycle: from the generation plants to our homes and offices.
These smart grids are able to repair themselves, encourage consumer participation in operations, ensure a reliable supply of superior quality even in the case of leaks, allow the growth of electricity markets and operate more efficiently.
Among its key features include:
- Load management: the load of any electrical network is never stable and varies over time, but in case of high load, smart grid systems can advise consumers to temporarily reduce energy consumption.
- Demand response: smart grids allow users to reduce their electricity bills by recommending that they use low priority electronic devices when rates are lower.
- Decentralization of electricity production: thanks to decentralization, smart grids allow users to generate energy in situ by using appropriate methods at their discretion.
What are the benefits of an intelligent network?
In summarizing some of its characteristics, we have already mentioned several benefits of smart grids, but it is also worth highlighting the following:
- Potential energy savings by reducing consumption, since users of smart grids are informed of their consumption and the power contracted at all times, and can adjust these parameters to meet their real needs.
- Better customer service, more accurate invoices and easier fraud detection.
- Greater competition in the energy industry, thanks to the reduction of entry barriers.
- Fewer peaks.
- Better integration of customer-owned power generation systems.
- Reduction of carbon emissions through the integration of renewable energy sources.
- Improvement in security.
Smart grid initiatives by region
Many governments around the world have encouraged the use of smart grids to help prevent global warming, be stronger in case of emergency or increase their energy autonomy.
For example, the EU introduced a 30-year energy technology strategic plan in 2006 for the development of an electrical system in
to achieve its objectives for 2020: increase energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, among others.
In the USA UU., 45 states and four territories already have mandatory standards for network measurement for renewable sources of solar and wind energy.
Among Latin American countries, the two key markets for smart grids have been Mexico and Brazil so far. In addition, it is likely that Argentina, Chile and Peru opt for smart grid systems to introduce more renewable energy into their networks.
As for Asia, India, which aspires to be an efficient city, it has been proposed to install 130 smart meters by 2021, and in 2013, China overtook the United States as the largest smart grid market in the world.