When bigger is badder... can transactive energy solve the coming crunch?


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: Power engineers are increasingly concerned that today's centralized command-and-control model will be overwhelmed as we begin to add tens of millions of smart devices to the grid. There's simply no way to transmit all that information to a central brain, analyze it, and send it back out in time to control the grid.


We'll need some kind of distributed control system, and there's increasing momentum behind "transactive energy" as the basic model. Early in 2013, I warned you that every utility should learn the word transactive. Since then, there's been a couple of transactive energy workshops, along with a useful overview at the Worldwatch Institute blog. I've reprinted the intro here, or read the full article. Better yet, scan the agenda of the recent Portland conference to download copies of relevant presentations (requires free registration). - By Jesse Berst



The U.S. power grid is a modern engineering marvel, but it’s overdue for an overhaul. Participants at the recent Transactive Energy Conference in Portland, Oregon, came together to discuss the changing system and to develop the concept of transactive energy as the future of the grid.


As the first such conference of its kind, the gathering was initiated by defining exactly what transactive energy is. In an interview with Sustainable Business Oregon, Carl Imhoff, manager of the electricity infrastructure sector for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and a moderator at the conference, provided a succinct definition: "Transactive energy is a means of using economic signals or incentives to engage all the intelligent devices in the power gridâ€"from the consumer to the transmission systemâ€"to get a more optimal allocation of resources and engage demand in ways we haven’t been able to before.”