Is smart grid worth it? How does a $2 trillion efficiency benefit sound?

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By: SGN Staff

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Smart grid estimated cost: $338 billion. Anticipated economic benefit: how does $2 trillion grab you? That's an estimate of the savings in efficiency a smart grid could bring by 2030, courtesy of George Arnold, national coordinator for smart grid interoperability at NIST.

 

Arnold spoke to an audience of students and faculty at the University of Toledo this week and in addition to providing his economic benefit estimate, gave them an outline of where the smart grid is going and related issues. As reported in the Toledo Blade, Arnold described an industrial-Internet transformation where physical systems (like the electric grid) and cyber technology are working together to develop cyber-physical systems.

 

The result in time will be better and more efficient control of those physical systems, which will save both companies and consumers a lot of money. But we're far from reaching that point, Arnold said, noting that the electric grid hasn't changed much since it first powered up in the 1880s. But it would be worth the cost because the efficiencies of a smart electric grid would be responsible for that $2 trillion in savings.

 

Other major grid issues that concern industry stakeholders right now are established open standards to guarantee interoperability of equipment and technologies, and strong cybersecurity, Arnold said. He added that while the federal government has been the primary promoter of the smart grid, encouraging more public-private collaboration could shift that leadership role to industry with the government acting in a more secondary role.

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