We all know that the Smart Grid is being touted as the future of our nation’s energy infrastructure. But for those of us involved in distributed energy, a truly successful Smart Grid must incorporate onsite power and renewable energy. Of course, in order for any “smart” energy infrastructure to truly integrate renewable energy—and thereby actualize the dream of a future free of fossil fuel dependence—the issue of energy storage must be addressed. The only way wind and solar can truly be part of the mix is if we can develop a way to store the excess power they generate during off-peak times for use when demand is at its highest.
The IEEE’s P2030 Draft Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System (EPS), and End-Use Applications and Loads (http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/scc21/2030/2030_index.html) is the organization’s latest effort to increase awareness about the importance of grid storage when it comes to the three main benefits associated with the eventual implementation of a “smart grid”: a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, increased energy efficiency, and the incorporation of renewable energy. With the P2030, the IEEE sets out standards for energy storage on the grid, including “guidelines for defining the technical interfaces between energy storage systems, such as communications to other smart-grid equipment.” Over the next two years, IEEE’s P2030 will focus on hybrid storage systems that combine different technologies, including UPS, flywheels, and ultracapacitors.
So what do you think? Will the IEEE’s efforts shine a much-needed spotlight on energy storage and the smart grid? Should there be a greater focus on the role onsite power can play when it comes to the interplay between renewables, storage, and the grid? And should we be focusing on a national smart grid at all, or would we be better served by focusing on smaller, distributed generation systems that offer the flexibility and reliability that many big power users—like data centers, office buildings, and industrial facilities—are really looking for?