Smart Networks, Smart Grid and Intelligent Utility Networks are all these terms that describe an environment where computer-based electronics called ‘digital technologies’ are incorporated into utility networks to achieve substantial increases in customer service and network reliability, while catering for present and future environmental and sustainability initiatives (like distributed renewable energy resources such as wind power and solar power).
These changes will have a significant impact on the way networks are built and operated. It is likely this new technology will be required to manage the networks of the future.
In Australia, a National Smart Grids Forum has been established to develop standards and documentation relating to Smart Networks.
A definition of a Smart Network is:
“An intelligent electricity network that leverages the benefits of digital technology to provide accessible, flexible, reliable and economically sustainable power supplies”.
Smart meters, labelled by Australian government as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program are also one of the key building blocks of a Smart Network. Several projects are in progress in 2009 within utility and network companies across Australia to implement Advanced Metering Infrastructure and smart meters.
A ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Solution’ is undergoing development at Officer, one of the population growth areas in outer south east Melbourne. Potential projects include:
- fibre-to-the-home communications
- multi-utility metering
- distributed generation.
The Australian Federal Government has also announced an investment worth up to $100 million in the 2009 budget to assist the development of Smart Network technology to create a smarter and more efficient energy network.
Smart networks and green cars
Blade Getz electric car fill up
Power and grid utilities companies are gearing up to tap into the stored energy that plug-in electric vehicles can provide using smart-grid technology. Car batteries can provide a buffer to lighten the load on the grid during peak times and potentially provide back-up power to home owners. In addition, old plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) batteries could be recycled as storage devices.
- Electric cars seen as killer app for smart grid, Green Tech – CNET News