The existing grid

As Figure demonstrates, the existing electricity grid is  a strictly hierarchical system in which power plants at the top of the chain ensure power delivery to customers’ loads  at the bottom of the chain. The system is essentially a oneway pipeline where the source has no real-time information about the service parameters of the termination points. The grid is therefore overengineered to withstand maximum anticipated peak demand across its aggregated load. And since this peak demand is an infrequent occurrence, the system is inherently inefficient. Moreover, an unprecedented rise in demand for electrical power, coupled with lagging investments in the electrical power infrastructure, has decreased system stability. With the safe margins exhausted, any unforeseen surge in demand or anomalies across the distribution network causing component failures can trigger catastrophic blackouts.

Source:
Hassan Farhangi “The Path of the Smart Grid” IEEE Power & Energy Mazagine. January/February 2010. Pag 18 -28.




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