Smart grid impact: 7 projects that could make a real difference


By Liz Enbysk

SGN Managing Editor


How many different ways can smart grid technologies positively impact our world? You may be surprised. Scroll down and onto page 2 where we've highlighted seven projects with the potential to make a difference in lives, livelihoods and/or the world at large - all in very different ways.


What NASCAR drivers and electric utilities have in common: In the "you learn something new every day" category comes this story from, which explains how a $4.1 million Department of Energy effort to improve forecasting of when the sun is going to shine will benefit race car drivers too. Apparently cloud cover affects track temperatures, which affect how well race car wheels grip the pavement. (That's the "who knew" part.) So that's why the DOE program intended to help electric utilities better gauge how much electricity their solar plants will generate will also benefit NASCAR drivers - and another who knows - maybe your local TV station's weather forecaster too. Read more >>


Why smarter water is no drop in the bucket: We added a smart water channel to the Smart Grid News website last year because it was becoming increasingly clear that in the "big picture" we need to think in terms of smart infrastructure -- and how smart electric grids and smart water grids are both part of it. With that in mind, we appreciated this reminder from Sensus about how smarter water systems do make a difference. Example: Chesterfield County, South Carolina, where residents were losing several hundred gallons of water a day due to faulty plumbing. Since implementing Sensus smart water meters, Chesterfield County has decreased water loss by more than 50%. It's the same story in Missouri, where the City of O'Fallon's unaccounted for water - a big problem for water utilities - has dropped from 18% to 10% since implementing a smart water network, according to the city. Read more >>


SMUD and Stem team for solar pilot:  In a two-year research project to analyze the impact of high penetration solar photovoltaics (PV) on the electric grid, Sacramento Municipal Utility District will deploy technology from Stem, a provider of energy optimization services. During the first phase of the project Stem and SMUD will work with residential and commercial customer volunteers from a solar-powered community to install Stem’s PowerMonitor data collection and analysis solution to better understand the amount of PV that can be added to a distribution feeder while maintaining grid stability and power quality. A potential follow-on phase may see SMUD deploying Stem’s distributed storage systems to test the potential for automatic, fast-responding distributed storage to improve power quality for customers on circuits with high penetration of PV.  Read more >>


And finally, helping light up rural India: Teaming with Sachin Tendulkar - an icon in cricket circles - Schneider Electric is providing its solar home lighting systems to thousands of Indian villagers who struggle to get reliable access to electricity. As Schneider explains it, the partnership came about when Tendulkar was introduced to Schneider's In-Diya Lighting System - a specially designed LED-based lighting system that can operate on main power supply and/or solar power, and provides backup ranging from 8 to 15 hours for indoor use. Aware of the challenges faced by many villages, Tendulkar shared his wish with Schneider of "taking In-Diya to the real India" where the need for such a product is acute. Schneider says its culture of social responsibility kicked in and - working with Tendulkar and the nonprofit Spreading Happiness -- the initiative has already rolled out a pilot project in Velunje, Nashik in Maharashtra. Read more >>

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