In the next 20 years, the energy grid will be a massively complex system, and the need to adapt to changing conditions is more critical than ever. Currently, the power grid relies on centralized power plants and one-way flows of power. As this system is increasingly unreliable, it must transition to distributed optimization and control. In a distributed energy grid, the optimal state of the grid varies every second. This means that the operation of a distributed energy system must be based on real-time data.
As a result, the energy grid is susceptible to aging infrastructure and extreme weather events. Most power transformers and power plants are over 30 years old, and the majority of the grid’s infrastructure is above ground. This makes it more expensive to build, but this also makes it less reliable. As climate change continues to increase variability and stress the system, it is imperative to invest in new, sustainable infrastructure to ensure that we remain safe and prosperous.
As the energy grid ages, it has become increasingly difficult to make improvements. Even though the North American grid is one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, decades of underinvestment have left it vulnerable. It is possible to build a new, Clean Energy Grid that meets increasingly strict reliability demands and withstands the impact of climate change and cyberattacks. In New York City alone, billions of dollars were invested in aging infrastructure to increase reliability. Consolidated Edison has invested in modernizing its operations and making it more resilient to disasters.
As the energy grid continues to age, it will be more difficult to manage renewable energy sources and maintain a steady supply. In addition, renewables cannot be ramped up and down like fossil fuel plants. Similarly, solar panels cannot easily match their supply to demand. This creates an urgent need for flexibility in an energy grid. The grid must have the ability to react to fluctuations in the environment. If it is not able to do so, it will face a debilitating situation and become increasingly expensive.
In addition to the energy grid, the smart grid must be capable of predicting the future recycled power and addressing current problems. A Smart Energy Grid must be flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of customers. In other words, it should be able to respond to the needs of the customer. And this is the only way to create a better energy grid. By 2030, most electricity customers will have control of distributed energy resources and be able to manage them.
In the United States, the energy grid follows a common model. In most areas, power is produced at large power plants and fed into high-voltage transmission lines that carry the electricity to the population. The distribution network is a network of high-voltage wires that carry the electricity from the power stations to the consumers. During peak hours, the electricity generated by the power plants is dumped into the local grid. Using the same technology to generate energy, the smart Grid also monitors and controls its usage.