Right now it may seem like science fiction, but soon we will hopefully be driving around in electric cars, traveling in electric buses and transporting things on trains and trucks that also run on electricity. And with faster broadband and more stuff in “the cloud” more of us will work, shop and laze around online – we’ll simply be using a lot more electricity. And this is ok, since things that run on electricity don’t emit any greenhouse gases. As long as the electricity they run on is produced in Sweden, anyway.
But in most countries we use coal and gas to make electricity. So the plan is to get much more electricity from renewable energy sources, like the sun, wind and water. And as we can see today, it will be produced in many more places – almost anyone with a roof can install solar panels, and people owning a bit of land can erect a windmill. But solar and wind power have one thing in common, the production is weather dependent.
Analyse, plan and deliver – with super speed
Today’s electricity grid is the world’s fastest supplier. We get the stuff exactly when we want to use it – the room is lit when we press the button, and not after a while. For today’s grid this isn’t much of challenge, since it gets an even flow of electricity from large, predictable power sources.
Tomorrow’s grid also has to be the world’s fastest supplier. But when the electricity comes from a lot of different places, when consumers are producers, and when it’s cloudy and the wind stops blowing, the grid has to get a bit wiser. Among other things, it has to be able to predict at what time everyone wants to charge their cars, and how to solve this on a freezing cold January night. And it has to be able to get solar power from a countryside barn roof and deliver it to a smart washing machine in the city. With higher consumption, active customers and more unpredictable production, the grid simply has to be better at communicating, analysing and then act, than the one we have today.
The Smart Grid knows everyone
With smart information technology all this is made possible. We can get much more information on how customers want to use electricity, and we can see the power sources’ delivery status right now, and how they will deliver tomorrow. We can also monitor substations, transformers and other components, making it easier to predict load peaks and to balance flows. And we can perform maintenance on the different parts of the grid, when we detect the need for it, and not unnecessarily. All this eliminates the need for oversized parts, reduces energy loss and lowers the risk of breakdowns. Being flexible simply makes the grid more stable.
So the Smart Grid knows what’s going on in all its parts and uses the data to match production and consumption of energy in a new way. A big part of the research project in Stockholm Royal Seaport is for us to find out how to build it in the very smartest way.
We want see how we can forecast, for example, solar production and usage, to make better predictions about congestion in the grid.
We want to lower energy loss in substations by 15%.
We want to reach a 10-20% improvement in handling of interruptions, compared to regular grids.