In order to analyze the worldwide Smart Grid´s development, perhaps we should start by reviewing the concept of Smart Grid.  However, we find that there is no single definition. On the contrary, each region and country and even each utility have their own definition. This reminds us the blind and elephant Hindu´s parable, where each interest group has different perspectives of the same reality.

 

As an aspirational concept, most authors agree that Smart Grid is one that intelligently accommodates and responds to all the elements it has interconnected, namely: generators, consumers and prosumers, with the purpose of delivering the electric power service more efficiently, reliably, safely, economically and sustainably.

 

In the last two decades, there has been a transformation process in the electrical industry worldwide, this process will accelerate significantly in the years to come, Smart Grids are the technologies that will support and make it possible.

 

Considering the diversity public policy aspects, regulation, market and technology of the Electric Service Industry in each country; Governments, operators and utilities have defined their own path and pace of transformation. The Smart Grid´s public policy, strategy, road maps, programs and project definitions are essential in order to harmoniously address this transformation.

 

There is a worldwide trend towards a progressive ecological awareness and sustainability that drives the growing use and development of electric vehicles, energy storage systems and distributed generation.

 

Global digitization trends are also driving the transformation of this industry, especially the imminent IoT ubiquitous networks deployment and advanced fiber optic networks that will enable more efficient connection of intelligent measurement equipment, protections, compensation and distributed sensors throughout the distribution and transmission networks, as well as big data systems for the processing of large data bases and advanced analytical systems that will allow to take advantage of the information collected, almost in real time, even for the network operation.

 

Even though the digitization that adds "intelligence" to the grid has advanced in the last decades, and it is present in the important penetration of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA), Energy Management Systems (EMS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Advanced Measurement Infrastructure (AMI), etc., as well as in the increasing incorporation of automations in substations and transmission and distribution networks; the best is just yet to come.

 

The mix between global trends and industry pressures will not only bring about a change in the technological models we are currently familiar with, innovation will also arrive at the heart of Electricity Industry business models. In this context, the more market liberalization and deregulation, the more challenge will face traditional utilities, the best way to deal with them will be the incorporation of higher levels of digitization with a focus on efficiency and customer service.

 

The electricity industry transformation has also incorporated the need for more research and development activities in Smart Grid´s domains, such as: demand integration, microgrids, renewable energy integration, distributed generation and energy storage systems. The Smart Grid development has also promoted the development and convergence of operational technologies and information technologies (OT / IT), which have given impetus to Smart Cities development of Intelligent as well.

 

In addition to the large companies that have been traditionally supplied equipment and services for the electrical industry, and are also transforming their technology offer to make it more digital; there is a growing number of new companies whose focus is eminently technological, interested in capitalizing on new opportunities, developing and promoting emerging Smart Grid technologies that we will see in operation in the short and medium term.

 

The Smart Grid great advantage is, when its deployment advance with transmission systems operators, distribution system operators, suppliers and independent system operators, not only benefits are obtained in each of these actors, but also the electric system obtains important benefits, for example, greater efficiency in the operation of the whole system, reserve margin reduction and energy losses reduction; as well as improvements in system reliability, flexibility, security and resilience. A Smart Grid also improves the energy efficiency of the entire system, thus achieving a significant reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases.

 

Like I said, the best is just yet to come. With the processes and technologies that are currently being developed and matured in the laboratories, test bed and electrical networks of various countries, not only locally will great benefits be achieved. With greater international cooperation and suitable regulation, we could even aim to have a global interconnected grid, with this network and a suitable planning of the use of renewable energy resources, we could substantially improve the efficiency of the entire interconnected world electrical system, the economic and ecological benefits could be tremendous.

 

To achieve this vision, technological capabilities are being strengthened. There are important advances in HVDC systems, FACTS, high-speed communication networks and advanced EMS systems. However, organizational and collaborative capacities at the international level in this area should also be strengthened. I couldn´t have but wonder: Will we have the capability to organize us at a global level?

 

It is well known that before running we have to learn to walk first. Each country and region must make its own path at their own pace and style, always taking care to move forward in their local context while continues seeing the lessons learned and best practices of the world.

 

 

Written by

 

Oscar Miranda Miranda
Smart Grid México &
LATAM Smart Community Alliance
President
M.  +52 1 (55) 1798-5866