5 smart grid projects with intriguing possibilities



China's big utility is testing passive optical networking technology with a nod to capabilities that extend beyond grid reliability. It's one of five intriguing smart grid projects that recently caught our eye. Scroll down and onto page 2 for details.


PON technology in China

An interesting piece in the MIT Technology Review highlights a smart grid pilot that State Grid Corporation of China is rolling out to test passive optical networking (PON) technology, described as  high-bandwidth data wiring that can be run inside electric power cables without interference. The thinking is that the technology can not only make the electric grid more efficient and reliable, but could also be a conduit for delivering high-speed Internet, TV and telephony. As the article points out, there's difference of opinion on whether it's something U.S. utilities would or should consider, but it's an interesting read either way.


Making energy storage more economical in Washington State

A partnership between the Snohomish PUD in Washington State and 1 Energy Systems will develop and deploy an approach to energy storage aimed at helping electric utilities increase their use of renewable energy and improve overall reliability. Under the partnership, 1Energy will provide a one-megawatt battery energy storage system, built on a Modular Energy Storage Architecture (MESA). The system, based on commercially-available, advanced technology batteries, will be housed in a standard shipping container, which will be installed at a PUD substation. Alstom Grid and faculty at the University of Washington are also collaborating on the project.


Snohomish PUD General Manager Steve Klein noted the project brings major equipment and software companies together to establish the appropriate industry standards and interfaces to make storage more economically and operationally viable.  "This approach," Klein said, "is much different than other energy storage projects in the past and should result in the expanded application of plug-n-play type energy storage systems to help solve the expanding needs of today’s electric grid that depends more and more on intermittent resources such as wind and solar.” Read more >>

Developing microgrids in remote areas of Argentina

A Duke Energy International project is bringing renewable electricity to a pair of remote areas of Argentina that have no reliable access to power. Developing each project as a microgrid -- providing power to two small towns that will remain unconnected to the nation’s grid -- will not only help residents of the towns but also provide technical information about microgrid operations, says John Stowell, VP  of international stakeholder relations in Duke’s sustainability department. The projects are small -- a 65-kilowatt hydroelectric dam and a 75-kilowatt wind project. Duke will operate them for two years, training local power company employees to eventually take over the operations. The project is through the Global Sustainable Energy Partnership. Read more >>


Targeting hard-to-reach meters in Scotland

A trial in Scotland that targeted hard-to-reach meters in densely populated urban areas in Glasgow as well as rural locations to simulate GB-wide rollout conditions has been deemed a success. ScottishPower was able to connect over 99% of meters in the trial areas with a single installation visit to each home, using SmartReach’s long-range radio communications solution alone.  The trial covered meters located outside and deep inside buildings, in basements and in flats across rural and dense urban areas. SmartReach used Arqiva’s existing tower infrastructure, the Sensus’ FlexNet smart metering communications solution and smart meters from EDMI for the trial. Read more >>


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