Why is it so difficult to define “Smart Grid”?

Two simple words, many definitions

For the US Department of Energy, Smart grid generally refers to a class of technology people are using to bring utility electricity delivery systems into the 21st century, using computer-based remote control and automation.

SmartGrid.gov, the gateway to information on federal initiatives that support the development of the technologies, policies and projects transforming the electric power industry, tell us that the Smart Grid is a developing network of transmission lines, equipment, controls and new technologies working together to respond immediately to our 21st Century demand for electricity.

There is a dispute on Wikipedia. In the main article, a Smart Grid is defined as a digitally enabled electrical grid that gathers, distributes, and acts on information about the behavior of all participants (suppliers and consumers) in order to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of electricity services.

For the Smart Grid News, the Smart Grid isn’t a thing but rather a vision and to be complete, that vision must be expressed from various perspectives – its values, its characteristics, and the milestones for achieving it.

Many other definitions are proposed.

Why is it so difficult to define it?

First, we don’t know who invents the term. No one can then pretend to have the original definition. It seems that it appears simultaneously in Europe and in the US in 2004. The following Ngram shows that it was first used in books in 2001. But its usage really began in 2006.

Second, the call for a smarter grid does not come from the power sector itself. It is external constraints and needs that pushed the concept forward:

  • Economy & market
  • Renewable energy sources
  • Protection of the environment
  • Politic.

If we add the aging of electrical infrastructures in the US, which time to time causes blackout like the Northeast blackout of 2003 which affected 10 millions people, as well as the Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) that should be soon supplied by millions, the list is completed.

The move towards smarter grids is more a reaction to threads than an action to improve.

Third, it became a marketing slogan. Any new product is now labelled smart grid. Even new version of old products, without major improvement.

Fourth, the term smart can be differently interpreted. The use of such a vague concept doesn’t help. It sounds like a marketing tagline.

Difficult is not synonym of impossible

In another article, we will propose our definition. It is not a simple task, but we will see together that by broaden the vision, the definition becomes obvious (I hope).

Gauthier Dupont

About Dupont
Dupont Energy Consulting GmbH Owner & Director http://www.dupontconsulting.de

2 Responses to Why is it so difficult to define “Smart Grid”?

  1. Pingback: My definition of “Smart Grid” « Dupont Energy Consulting GmbH – Gauthier Dupont

  2. Pingback: Already tired of Smart Grid ? | Dupont Energy Consulting GmbH

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